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Kublai Khan

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure dome decree


Grandson of the great Genghis, Kublai inherited the largest land empire in history – and doubled it. Driven to fulfill his grandfather’s self-proclaimed destiny – to rule the world – Kublai became the Great Khan of one-fifth of the world’s inhabited land area.


But Kublai was not born to rule. It was his brilliant, scheming mother who placed him in line for throne. Seizing power in his forties, he saw that China rather than Mongolia was the key to empire. Ruling first from Xanadu (Shangdu, ‘Upper Capital) and then from Dadu (now Beijing), he forged southwards. After twenty years of war, he became the first ‘barbarian’ to conquer all China. Linking vast wealth to military might and shrewd government, he took the Empire to its limits, most dramatically in Japan, where his fleet was wrecked by a typhoon.


His successes and failures laid the foundations for today’s superpower.


The great delight of researching this book was the re-discovery of Xanadu (this English corruption of Shangdu is from Coleridge’s famous poem). It’s a wonderful site that I would come to know even better. The experience led me on to Kublai’s involvement with Buddhism, to which he converted for political as well as emotional reasons. The Forbidden City, Tiananmen, Beihai Park – all recall the influence of Kublai.



I have enjoyed every page. It is a fascinating story and brilliantly written... The book reads like an adventure novel

Man has become a recognized authority on the history of Mongolia and its countrymen. Kublai Khan is a worthy successor to his book on Genghis Khan… A remarkable story

One of the great strengths of this book is to rescue Kublai Khan from myth… Man knows his subject and his desire to share it is infectious

Daily Telegraph

Times Literary Supplement

‘Estersazzy’ on

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