Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Genghis Khan and Rumi

Genghis Khan
by Demi
Mashall Cavendish Classics, 2009
(first published as Chingis Khan in 1991 by Henry Holt and Co.)
review copy provided by the publisher

Rumi: Whirling Dervish
by Demi
Marshall Cavendish, 2009
review copy provided by the publisher

First of all, these two books are classic Demi -- beautiful rich colors, detailed pictures, plenty of gold.

The similarities pretty much end there. Genghis Khan is the story of "the greatest conqueror of all time," a military genius, a heavyweight thug. Rumi is the story of "the greatest mystical poet who ever lived," a simple man, a lover of learning who saw God in everyone and everything.

The stories of these two great men intersected in the early 1200's. Rumi's first home was in Afghanistan, but his family was forced to flee to Turkey when Genghis Khan and his Mongol army were conquering their homeland.

Rumi's story tells of his meeting with a great teacher, Shamsuddin, and the three years he spent learning from him. One day after Shams disappeared, Rumi began twirling around and he didn't stop for 36 hours. Those who perform this dance are now known as whirling dervishes.

Genghis Khan had an amazing childhood. Before he could walk, he was strapped onto a horse and taught to ride. When he was four, he practiced archery while riding horses at top speed. At 5, he was responsible for herding large numbers of camel and goats. When he was 6, he took part in the yearly hunt. At 9, his father died and he became the leader of the Yakka Mongols. He went on to become the "supreme master of the largest empire ever created in the lifetime of one man."

What a fabulous pair of books to compare and contrast two of the greatest men of the 11th Century! They just about couldn't be more different, and yet both live on in the stories of their lives.

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