Some of my work is narrative history. Some of it is fiction.
This is why I do both. Sometimes you can tell truth in fiction better than you can in history.
I am an independent scholar functioning as an independent think tank. This means that I practice applied scholarship or applied history. Just as scientific theory can be applied to a practical use, so scholarly knowledge can illuminate the present.
I'm a student of the Mongol Empire, which makes me a student of medieval history. I apply my knowledge of East Asia's past to current events. My object is to think outside the reportage that does not rely upon history and to inform the public and policy makers. This has to do with context. When engaging cultures with long histories and intellectual traditions, it is best to be informed about those perspectives.
THE PAST ILLUMINATES THE PRESENT:
My new book, Princess Sorghagtani: The Woman Who Changed Global History" is a volume for our times. Women had high status in the Mongol Empire. In fact, they ruled while their husbands were away making war. They managed the clans that camped with their husbands, they traded with the Muslim merchants for the goods of the civilized world, they heard and adjudicated cases as judges, they managed the production of the foodstuffs and felt that the vast herds of animals produced, tanned hides, dried meats and wild vegetables, the felt that made the ger tents. They even traded horses for tea with the Muslim merchants who plied the caravan route of the Silk Road between the lands of Islam and China.
Sorghagtani was Genghis Khan's favorite daughter-in-law. Her husband Tolui, the fourth son, rode beside The Conqueror in every major campaign, including the conquest of China. When her husband died, she gained lands for herself in China and she went there to help restore order after twenty-five years of warfare.
She watched her father-in-law build the empire. She saw his designated succesor and his family destroying it. She made an alliance with Batu, the Khan of Russia, and she put her sons on the throne. They were among the most talented emperors in history. Their campaigns resound through the ages with consequences we live with today. The conquest of Russia. The unification of China after 400 years of division. The destruction of the Sunni and Shia centers of power in Iran and Iraq.
She was an upright woman, a woman who upheld Genghis Khan's Code of Laws and she was a Christian of the Eastern rite who brought her sons up to have respect for religion. She was called, by the European chronicler at the Mongol court, the most remarkable woman of her age. This is her story.
As I am fond of saying, this is Game of Thrones, only for real.
THE SPY NOVEL:
The More Things Change, The More They Remain the Same
My thrillers illustrate the power politics of Asia, great powers struggling to master the vast game board of Asia.
China's Wild West is a strategic region. Across the long border, Central Asia has two hot wars--Afghanistan and Kashmir, both with jihadis as significant players.
The czars and emperors have turned into presidents. But the players are the same and they still want power. Russia still looks to the East. China seeks influence and power in Central Asia. The United States is a player.
Three nuclear powers face off against one another, the most likely place on earth where nuclear war could break out, unless someone steals fissile materials for a dirty bomb or buys them on the black market.
China's Wild West is in the Muslim province of Xinjiang, containing the old oasis towns of the Silk Road, where races and languages have formed a melting pot for two thousand years. In this ancient region, modern civilization has arrived in the form of the government of the People's Republic of China.
There is unrest in the Far West, to put it mildly. The Chinese government has been encouraging the migration of Han Chinese to the region for decades. The Muslims of Xinjiang resent it. They riot. They bomb. They burn buildings. They demonstrate.
Enter our hero, Gordon Farr, non-official cover and an old China hand, on assignment from the president, A fluent speaker of Chinese, a martial artist, a connoisseur of Chinese art, Gordon Farr has family connections going back generations. His great-grandfather was a missionary and his grandfather and father were all in the China trade.
Is he going to be friend or foe to Secretary Lu, his old friend and the Public Security Secretary of Xinjiang, who runs the province? Secretary Lu has a problem. The new president of China is clamping down on corruption and Lu has become a target. He could lose everything.
Someone in Beijing is out to destroy his career and local bureaucrats are part of the plot. Liu needs an outsider to help him root out the enemy. Liu wants Gordon Farr to help him fix it.
Welcome to China's Wild West. You say you didn't know that China had a Wild West?
Not to worry. Read my thrillers. Miss Wolff explains it all for you.