Book Review: the Empire of the Steppes

The Empire of the Steppes: a History of Central Asia by Rene Grousset. Published in 1970 by Rutgers

I picked this book up two years ago because I had a vague interest in the steppes and Central Asia and I’m really glad I did. While it is an old book, originally published in 1939, it is surprisingly sympathetic to the various tribes and races discussed. There are some glaring word choices that reveal its age (like using orientalist unironically), but it didn’t impact the overall reading experience. It is an in depth and compelling overview of the steppes from early human history to the 18th century. The first two chapters of the book are hard to get through, especially for someone like me who didn’t know anything about the region before reading the book. I’d actually recommend skipping the first two chapters and start with Genghis Khan as that is when Groussett’s writing shines the brightest.

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