John Man is a historian and travel writer with a special interest in Mongolia. His book Gobi: Tracking the Desert was the first book on the subject in English since the 1920s. He is also the author of Atlas of the Year 1000, Alpha Beta, The Gutenberg Revolution, Genghis Khan, The Terracotta Army, and The Great Wall, among others.
Attila the Hun was "the Genghis Khan of Europe," says British historian Man in this fast-paced though often prosaic account of the rise and fall of the Huns and their infamous leader. Man traces the origin of the Huns, following these restless nomads from the steppes of Mongolia to present-day Hungary. Attila led his people in terrifying raids into new lands in the fifth century. Relying on scant written sources, Man (Genghis Khan; Gobi: Tracking the Desert) portrays Attila as a man of "extreme contradictions" and moods, skillful at deceiving both his closest advisers and his greatest enemies. In his military campaigns, Attila moved quickly to loot as many villages as he could in order to satisfy his followers. His armies of mounted archers, a throng that could shoot up to 12,000 arrows a minute, wrought destruction and terror wherever they went. He terrified the Romans as he approached their city, but Man says Attila would never have been able to penetrate the fortresses of Rome or Constantinople, and he died of a burst varicose vein in his stomach before he could even try. Full of military adventures and political maneuverings, Man's lively narrative provides a glimpse of a leader whose name has become synonymous with ruthlessness. Illus., maps. (July 18) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Man (Genghis Khan: Life, Death, and Resurrection), a historian with an interest in Mongolia and archaeology, has written a popular history as much about the Huns as about their notorious leader. He begins by identifying the Huns as possible descendants of Turkish nomads who created the first large steppe empire beyond China's western borders on the strength of their horse-mounted archers. The steppe empire would, in time, be crushed by the Chinese, its remnants fleeing west to become the Huns. This old theory of Hunnic origins has gained new authority owing to recent archaeological finds in the Altai Mountains and advancements in the study of Mongolian folklore. Man's chapter on the causes for the Huns' military superiority is fascinating, relying on the work of the Hungarian archer expert Lajos Kassai. After years of study and practice, Kassai re-created the bow and the riding and shooting skills of the Hunnish horse archers. His demonstrations of horse archery have given onlookers a chilling glimpse into the destructive power of Attila's mounted archers. Man's book is a highly readable account of a bellicose steppe people and their leader who, long after they departed from the West, continue to haunt the European imagination. Highly recommended for public and academic libraries. Robert J. Andrews, Duluth P.L. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
"Entertaining and lucid account of a phenomenal militarist unable to resist a crumbling empire's vast, unprotected wealth." --Kirkus Reviews "Full of military adventures and political maneuverings, Man's lively narrative provides a glimpse of a leader whose name has become synonymous with ruthlessness." --Publishers Weekly "Man's book is a highly readable account of a bellicose steppe people and their leader who, long after they departed from the West, continue to haunt the European imagination." --Library Journal "One could not wish for a better storyteller or analyst than John Man. . . . His Attila is superb, as compellingly readable as it is impressive in its scholarship." --Simon Sebag Montefiore, author of Stalin