Narrative History

An Offer He Could Not Refuse: The Conqueror Recruits the Man of Letters
After the fall of the Tang Dynasty in the tenth century, for four hundred years, barbarian dynasties ruled in the North. Tang was the golden age of China. The alien dynasties in the North were not Chinese. None of them was as successful as the ruler Chinggis Khan.

He waged a war of national vengeance against China for meddling in the affairs of his beloved steppes, the vast prairielands beyond the Great Wall. He was a military genius. This is the story of his campaign, of the strategy and tactics that allowed his army of 120,000 troops to breach the Great Wall. take the immense capital of Qungdu and do what no other nomad khan had ever done, eventually unify China to the borders of present-day China proper. This is the first chapter of global history.

The question is: if Chinggis Khan was such a barbarian, how did he conquer the most advanced civilization on earth?

He rode at the head of his army in countless battles and he was victorious in all of them. He wore the same uniform as his men, he ate the same food that they did and he slept in the same felt tents as they did.

He was fond of saying that a man's greatest pleasure was to drive his enemies before him, to take what was theirs and to hold in his arms the loveliest of their women.

This was one of the most staggering feats in military history and yet it is obscured in the mists of history.

The man of letters recruited by Chinggis Khan after the fall of the Golden Dynasty was Yeh-lu. He witnessed the horrors of the fall, and he went to a Buddhist monastery to meditate. Chinggis Khan summoned him and demanded that he bring the Seal of State.

As an official of the deposed, Yeh-lu thought he was to be executed. Instead, Chinggis Khan admired men of learning and offered him the post of Secretary, Physician and Astrologer.

The success of the empire was due to Yeh-lu. He was a man of letters in a military government.

As Yeh-lu was fond of saying, "The empire may have been won on horseback, but it cannot be governed from horseback."

It might be said that he saved Chinese civilization, for the Mongol generals wanted to raze all of North China and turn it into pasture for their horses. A thrilling story.

Batu. Khan of the Golden Horde: The Mongol Khans Conquer Russia
For news junkies who wonder why there are Tatars in the Crimea who wish to remain loyal to Putin's Russia, the answer is, that they are the descendants of Chinggis Khan's armies.

Batu Khan was the senior prince of the empire after the death of Chinggis Khan. He ruled the Russian Khanate, and in fact, was a military hero in the campaign that brought Russia under Mongol rule.

This is the story of his conquest of Russia and his rule of Russia, that was making him immensely rich. It is the story of how he removed one house of Chinggis Khan's descendants from the throne of the Mongol Empire, and put another house on the throne. Though these events occurred eight centuries ago, they mark the end of the medieval period, when the Muslim caliphate ruled the banking and financial structures of the world, and marked the beginning of the rise of the West.

Russia was critical as the Muslim powers wanted to take Russia and Batu had no intention of letting it go. This too had serious consequences for the results of Batu's being a kingmaker resonate down to the events on the front pages of the world's media to this day.

The bad part about the Mongol conquest of Russia was not that it happened, that the princes who elected their rulers in the medieval cities were forced to "go to the horde" to pay tribute, including the great hero Alexander Nevsky, but that the Mongols did not go away for two hundred years. Until the time of Ivan the Terrible, the first of the Romanovs, the Mongols ruled Russia with a vast army while they grew rich from trade of the western branches of the Silk Road. This was when Europe was a backwater. The period ushers in the rise of the West. A fascinating era, with stories that are like Shakespeare in Asia, about power, greed, betrayal, conspiracy, true love and its corruption and the nature of rule.

Taifun: Khubilai Khan Invades Japan by Sea

Why had a man born to the horse taken to the sea? Khubilai Khan was the Emperor of Heaven. He was the first man to sit on the Dragon Throne and rule over all of China in 400 years. He had sent the general out to conquer the south and unify China, and he was the most powerful sovereign in Asia. He ruled over a magnificent court. He was wealthy beyond description. And yet, he was not satisfied.

This is the story told in "Taifun" when a kamikaze or Divine Wind saved Japan from the Mongol fleet of 2300 war junks. Not once, but twice.

Khubilai Khan became obsessed with invading Japan by sea. He tried twice and failed both times and the failure destroyed him.

He was like a character out of Shakespear, King Lear, a man undone. The failure to have Japan submit to him as a vassal, as it had to the greatest emperor of Tang, was a major factor in his descent into depression, alcoholism and obesity.

Princess Sorghagtani: The Woman Who Changed Global History
She was Chinggis Khan's favorite daughter-in-law. He had arranged her marriage to his youngest son, Tolui Khan.

As the niece of the most powerful khan in the steppes, Princess Sorghagtani was no stranger to political intrigue. Her youth was a time when tribal warfare turned the steppes into a seething cauldron of violence and a struggle for supremacy. Horse theft, bride theft, many were the causes of war.

Then the man who was to become the most powerful sovereign in Asia, her father-in-law Chinggis Khan, founded the vast empire that ruled from the Pacific to the Mediterranean. He issued a code of laws that brought peace for a century.

The designated successor of Chinggis Khan was a liberal ruler, but not a wise one. The empire was becoming bankrupt. He died and his son inherited the throne. The son was worse than the father. Her sons were the best of men, with intelligence and ability.

She was renowned for upholding the law when the nobility who ruled the central government spent their days violating the law. She was upright and was the most admired woman of her age, not only among the Mongol nobility but also by the Europeans at court, sent to spy on what type of threat the barbarians were for the West.

She watched her father-in-law build the empire and she watched the designated heir destroy it. Her husband had fought alongside The Conqueror in all the battles. Her sons were good men. She had reason to believe that she was entitled to put an end to the destruction.

Sorghagtani could not stand to watch the ruin. She made an alliance with the Khan of Russia, the great Batu, that put her sons on the throne.

How did she do it? Mongol women had more status and freedom than the women of China, or of Greece or Rome, for that matter. While the royal women of China were not allowed to own property and did not ride horses, Sorghagtani did both. She owned property. She was the counselor to khans.

This is why John of Plano Carpini, the envoy of the Pope of Rome to the Mongol court called her the most remarkable woman of her age.

The Mortal Wound: Why the Mongol Khans Destroyed the Caliphate
Why did the Mongol Emperor give Orders of Submission to the Caliph of Baghdad?

In the year 1258, Hulegu Khan, the younger brother of the Mongol Emperor, acting on imperial orders, toppled the Muslim centers of power in the Middle East. A new power had risen in the East and it tolerated no insubordination, even from the Muslim Caliphate.

The caliphate was the Sunni government that had been ruling for five hundred years in Baghdad, a thriving center of commerce and the possessor of a brilliant culture.

The Order of the Assassins were the rival center of power, a breakaway rebel sect of the Shia, who had been unsuccessful in establishing a rival caliphate in Egypt. They had been committing murders for hire all over the Muslim world and the orthodox Sunni wishes to be rid of them.

Hulegu destroyed them both and founded the Persian Khanate. He himself was Christian, but his sons converted to Islam and were among the greatest rulers of Islam. How did this happen?

Hulegu did not ride against the Muslims because they were Muslims. He rode against them for political and financial reasons.

It was one of the most momentous events of the Middle Ages and even though it echoes down to us from the pulpits of mosques all over the region down to the present day, it has been forgotten to history. This is the story.

It was said that the Tigris and the Euphrates ran red with blood and black from the ink of the thousands of volumes pitched into the rivers from the great libraries of Baghdad.

Chinese Writing: An Introduction
This work explores the oldest picture-language in the world in narrative and photographys for young readers. It shows how Chinese artists, through the medium of the brush, have captured in their writing the abstract beauty of the line and the energy of nature. Gives an understanding of the art as well as a how-to guild.

Illustrated with photographs from the collection of the modern Chinese painting master, C. C. Wang.

Winner American Library Association Most Notable Book Award, in the year of its publication.


For students and young readers everywhere, as Chinese is widely studied as a foreign language in American high schools. Also for interior design professionals who wish to get a quick but authoritative illustration of the four major styles of Chinese calligraphy with images from masterpieces from the collection of a modern Chinese painting master.