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News From The Silk Road 
 By Author Diane Wolff

Batu Khan on his throne


      From ninth grade and up.


For teachers of world history: Do you want to assign fiction or narrative history to engage students? 




Never a dull moment! Great storytelling, based on authoritative sources:

Select Bibliography posted on this page.


Students, get on your ponies and ride! 



The First Book in The Silk Road Series: Russia's Asian Past. The Mongols burn the Church of the Virgin in Kyiv to the ground. Forthcoming


Batu, Khan of the Golden Horde: The Mongol Khans Conquer Russia


Europe is quaking with fear when the Tatars appear out of the blue and conquer the Russian principalities.



A standalone story, on Kindle Vella, a serialized story that is prequel to the Silk Road Series


The Khan's Mistake: The Fight for Genghis Khan's Throne


Who will rule the empire once Genghis Khan dies? Chinggis Khan must choose among his four sons by the Empress. The weak men or the capable leaders? What does a Princess have to do with the succession?



A Standalone story, free, serialized in twenty-five chapters on Wattpad:  The least known story of the Campaign in Korea and the Maritime Silk Road. The Mongols take to the sea.


Fish Shoes: A Palace Drama


Great material for teachers of global history for middle school, high school and undergrads


Historical Background and Chapter One in Education about Asia Magazinethe magazine of the Association for Asian Studies






Fish Shoes: A Palace Drama


Khubilai Khan's daughter, the Princess Supreme, marries the King of Korea at the age of sixteen. She finds herself in the middle of a conflict between her father, the most powerful man in the world, the Emperor of China, and her husband, the King of Korea, over her father's intention of invading Japan by sea, using Korean vessels, and Korean pilots and sailors. Her husband wants peace, and her support. What is a young queen to do?


To read Fish Shoes free, go to the Wattpad website or dowload the app. Search by title or the author's pen name, Wu Wolff. The author would love readers to comment.


Hulegu Khan and the Siege of Baghdad, 1258

Why Read History? A Question for the Modern Student


Why does the past matter? Why should the student care?


The answer: It is difficult to understand the present unless one understands how we got to where we are.


We are in the second period of global history. Travel and communications make the world small. The West has dominated the world's oceans and trade. But how did we get here? How did the West rise? The answer lies in the most exciting period in history, the thirteenth century, where the story of our time begins.


My father taught me a love of history, for it is basically a love of stories. I am inspired by the novelist Eliot Pattison, author of the Detective Shan series and a series about revolutionary America. Eliot says that well-written historical fiction brings history alive, if it is faithful to the truth. I am inspired by David McCullough and Doris Kearns Goodwin, and the great Barbara Tuchman, particularly her book A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous Fourteenth Century.


I used to complain to my father that my teachers made history boring, a sequence of the names of places and dates. Why was it so interesting when he spoke about history? My dad said that it was because he told me the stories.




In the thirteenth century, the world was divided into islands of civilization, towns, villages and cities supported by agriculture, separated by vast areas of empty space populated by the nomads who were herders of animals. Travel between civilizations, such as between China and Persia, was long and hazardous, and accomplished on the trade routes called the Silk Road, a network of roads and sea voyages that brought goods from one part of the world to the others.


I write about the Mongol Empire as the first period of global history. The empire was the largest in world history, connected by roads and a code of laws, under one master. The way across the world opened. 


The Mongols are famous for war, but after the conquests, the Mongol story is, about trade, the circulatory system of the medieval period, when the old structures of finance and banking fell, and the modern world was born.


[The Mongols Empire's] most compelling weapon was— despite the Mongols' bloody reputation—not the sword, but trade: gems, fabrics, spices, metal and so on. It was the trade routes, not the projection of military power that emblemized the "Pax Mongolica." (Mongol Peace). Mongol grand strategy was built on commerce much more than on war. (Robert D. Kaplan, Revenge of Geography)


The roads opened. It is difficult to over-emphasize this. It was said that a virgin with a sack of gold on her head could walk across the post-roads from one end of the empire to the other, in complete safety. There was one political master of Asia, Chinggis Khan, and one Code of Laws, the Yasa, strictly enforced. (Chinggis is Genghis, the Mongolian romanization) The Muslim caravan merchants, the early capitalists, kept secret their sources for spices and even lied about them, until Marco Polo, a merchant, revealed the sources in his travels. That meant that Europeans could get into the lucrative spice trade, where before they had been excluded. Columbus carried a copy of The Travels when he sailed for what he thought was a sea route to Asia. Markets in Europe were still recovering from the fall of the Roman Empire at the time of the Mongol conquests. No one in Europe knew anything about the rise of a new power in the East. The European kings barely knew of Muslim commercial activity in Asia. China was the richest and most advanced civilization in the world. 


The Islamic world was far more advanced than Europe at the time. Muslim bankers and merchants controlled the trade between China and Europe. With the rise of the Mongol Empire, monopolies were broken. Fortunes were made in Europe that financed the Renaissance, the rebirth of science. It was the beginning of the modern period and the rise of the West. 


This is a vast story, spanning many cultures, with brilliant and exciting characters. This story is a study in human nature, with all of its virtues, flaws and motivations. My theme is as old as history itself: skulduggery in high places. 


I have been researching and writing about the heirs of Chinggis Khan for more than twenty years. You might call me a detective of the Silk Road, investigating the story in source materials from many cultures, Chinese, Mongolian, Persian, Arabic, Russian, Armenian, to name only a few. You might call me an archaeologist digging out the story of the vast empire from a vast literature.



I was inspired to write serialized stories by Charles Dickens and Mark Twain, who wrote serialized stories in newspapers. I was interested in the new online technologies, so when I received an invitation to submit, I did, first to Wattpad and then to Amazon Vella. The latter platform has a page where authors may give behind the scenes information to readers, and readers may comment. This is especially useful when the book is used as a companion text for a class.


I believe that the modern student will be fascinated by characters who are the same age as the reader at the beginning of the stories. How did they live? What were their deeds? What did they think? How did they deal with life?


Very recently, a renowned professor of Central Asian Studies told me that he though assigning new books to students, other than textbooks, might engage their interest. I created the three companion books. Batu, Khan of the Golden Horde is background to today's headlines about Russia.


The first serialized story, on Wattpad, is about a Mongol princess who becomes the Queen of Korea. Khubilai Khan's daughter, the Princess Supreme, marries the King of Korea at the age of sixteen. She finds herself caught up in the conflict between her father, the most powerful man in the world, the Emperor of China, and her husband, the King of Korea. Her father becomes obsessed with invading Japan by sea, using Korean vessels, and Korean pilots and sailors. The boy Shogun refuses to become his vassal. Her husband wants peace with the boy Shogun. He also wants his wife's support. What is a young queen to do?


No one knows anything about the Princess Supreme, so this story is new and original, a study in female rule and female archetypes from a non-Western society. The story is in 25 chapters and is available on Wattpad.com or the app.


For the historical context and the first chapter, click here.



The Khan's Mistake: The Fight for Genghis Khan's Throne is a portrait of succession, that subject of fascination to the contemporary world. It is about the new understanding in the literature of the so-called "barbarians", The Horde, how a mobile society governed. I like to point out that the Mongol Empire is the one example of how the nomads won over sedentary, agricultural societies, or what we call civilization. So my books are a study in the conflict between civilization and barbarism.


Chinggis Khan was a brilliant military strategist and a great general who rode at the head of his armies and never lost a battle. His one mistake was that he failed to provide for an orderly succession to the throne. This led to generations of wars between his descendants. These stories have been lost to the West. I am the Indiana Jones of the  Silk Road, digging out the stories from the original sources and from eyewitness accounts from many cultures, most of them from the conquered. Who better to paint the portrait?


The literature on Chinggis Khan is vast. I focused on a single theme, the manipulations surrounding the accession to the throne. This story is fascinating to readers and viewers today, in the vast volume of stories about the British throne and the succession of a new king.


My serialized story The Khan's Mistake is posted on Amazon Vella. The first three chapters are free to readers. After that, there is a small subscription fee for the rest of the book. The book is in forty episodes. It is also available as a paperback and eBook on Amazon.


I know from my previous book for young readers that adults read these books. Readers of all ages, get on your ponies and ride.


Read a sample here.



To readers of Batu, Khan of the Golden Horde: The Mongol Khans Conquer Russia:  


The maps and illustrations are posted on the Batu Khan page on this website. They are not included in the paperback edition of the book, which is in uncorrected proofs and available in print from Amazon and other booksellers. For maps and illustrations, please go to the Batu Khan page on this website and click on the link in the left-hand menu.


In the review of this book in Education About Asia, the magazine of the Association for Asian Studies, the reviewer remarks that this book needed illustrations and maps. This was her error. She missed the Author's Note that explained that maps and illustrations were online. The editor of EAA magazine is printing a correction.


Posting the illustrations online was my experiment. I wanted to see if students liked being able to access maps and illustrations online rather than in print. The reviewer missed the explanation in the book. The links for the illustrations connect with works of art from important museum and university collections. This saves on color printing, and is easier on the environment.


Colors are more vivid online and today's students are used to working online. Color printing is prohibitively expensive, so I thought the student would like the brilliant colors for works of art from important collections online.


 I was invited to submit this book for the Buchanan Prize, and at the time of the deadline, I could not acquire all the permissions to print the illustrations in the  paperback book. I did not win the prize, but it was an honor to be nominated.


For educators, Batu is available in galleys from Amazon. Minor errors appear in the text, as the result of making the deadline for submission. A final publication draft is forthcoming.