By Harold Lamb
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Their conquest used to be measured now not in miles yet in levels of longitude. They smashed the gates of empires, overthrew kingdoms, diverted rivers, and depopulated complete international locations. They have been the Mongols of Genghis Khan, quick and cruel but additionally imaginitive, daring, and crafty. Their story has seldom been advised within the West, and not through an writer with the acumen of Harold Lamb.
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Extra resources for Swords from the East
He tunneled his way out of the assassination scene and lived to make his would-be assassins sorry that they'd missed. All in a day's work-if you're Genghis Khan. But Lamb, in his interest in heroism, doesn't shy away from war's essential ugliness. Here (from "The Wolf-Chaser") a French nobleman takes a stroll through a Tatar village as it is being sacked by its enemies: "Captives were being roped together by the necks. Children were lifted on lances, to guttural shouts. " It's all quite repellent, and Hugo is repelled-but, with equal realism, he does not get involved.
The reindeer keeper also had noted the signs in the sky. He lingered for awhile hoping to see the departure of the trader; he even ventured to offer Petrovan some tobacco. " the trader grunted to Orani. "I would rather smoke dried horsedroppings. " Orani's slant eyes narrowed and his hand went instinctively to his knife. When Petrovan had traded or gambled in a bad streak of luck, the Siberian was accustomed to slur Orani's mixed parentage. " More than once Petrovan had been carried out of these same ditches when drunk.
Another week and the passes into the northern plain, with its scattered settlements, would be closed. The few traders who still lingered in the Syansk were hurrying down to the towns, several hundred miles away. More and more the play of the northern lights obscured the brightness of Upener, the polar star. As he had done for a score of years, Maak, the Buriat reindeer keeper, led his herd from the upland pastures down to the valleys where the streams were still open and the larches had a thin garment of foliage.