Genghis Khan

September 23, 2009 § 1 Comment

M. Shahid Alam

“I think this is a very hard choice,
but the price, we think the price is worth it.”

Madeliene Albright


When Genghis Khan swept through
Samarkand, he did not shrink

from the hard choices. His men carried out
a general carnage, not sparing women

or children. Afterwards, when Genghis
inspected the mounds of dead bodies,

skulls piled into pyramids, he knew
instinctively (he had been honed for it)

that the price was worth it. Genghis
did not care for carnage – he did not always

see the point of it. But it was Mongol mothers
he had to answer to. If the terror

in Samarkand produced one fewer body bag,
he thought, the price was worth it.

first published in Black Bear Review (January 2001)

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§ One Response to Genghis Khan

  • [...] It’s gotten a lot warmer in the last few days – yesterday was positively hot. The camp is coming together, I’ve gone up to help a few days and spent some in Ulaanbaatar. I’m not sure what my plan is now. My fantasy plan was to ride a horse across Mongolia, or even further. I will definitely do some horse trekking, but Mendee has told me not to expect more than twenty or thirty kilometers a day on a long horse-trek, which seems strange to me as I can walk twenty kilometers a day with a pack on and I smoke cigarettes. I thought horses were, well, strong as, um, horses. It would take me over two months to cross Mongolia at that rate and I’m not sure I’m up for it, not to mention visa and schedule issues. Mongolian horses are smaller than western horses, and it has been a rough winter, but even so I expected more mileage. Mendee says it has to do with letting the horses roam free from time to time and that they get weak when they spend long periods without ever getting to cavort on their own. I believe him, but I don’t understand how Ghengis Khan managed to maraud across Europe on such horses. Perhaps he fed them the leftover bodies from his skull piles. [...]

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