Herdsman to Statesman: The Autobiography of Jamsrangiin Sambuu of Mongolia
This compelling autobiography encapsulates the profound changes that transformed the underdeveloped world in the twentieth century. Jamsrangiin Sambuu, born in 1895 to a herder family in a remote region of Mongolia, rose to become ambassador and eventually president of a haltingly industrialized and urbanized Communist country. In the process, he came to know Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, and other leading figures. Sambuu relates horrifying vignettes of the harsh and oppressive rule over Mongolia by the Chinese, the Manchus, and the Mongolian nobility and lamas until 1911. Yet his stories of exploitation and torture are balanced by a lively, picturesque, and informative portrait of traditional herding life, including diet, popular religion, marital ceremonies, and medicine.
Sambuu relates how his visceral hatred of the avaricious Mongolian Buddhist monks and nobles prompted him to join the Communist movement in the early 1920s. Valued for his education and work ethic, he rose rapidly in the Party bureaucracy, becoming ambassador to the Soviet Union during World War II and to North Korea during the Korean War. Recounting his eventful diplomatic career, Sambuu paints vivid portraits of Stalin, Anastas Mikoyan, and other prominent Soviet leaders. Enriched by a thoughtful introduction by leading scholar Morris Rossabi that sets the historical stage, this life story of a still-beloved Mongolian illuminates a world few in the West have seen.
corispermum, etc. grow, must be cleaned of rubbish. The compacted urine and dung of the sheep and goats are peeled away, and insects are removed to make a dry place for the herds to lie in. When the first snow comes, make sure that all the herds have enough water. The horses, especially, should be given water and shouldn’t be allowed to eat snow since it can lead a mare to miscarry her foal. Similarly in winter and spring, we learn from the old people, that the thirst of the herds is not soothed
were thrust forward. With nostrils flaring, it jumped forward, just as I noticed wolves scratching at the earth. One was yelping and began to encircle us. It hit its nose and approached us, looking desperate. By lighting a match, I could see it scratching at the twigs and bark of the elm trees, and I was so terrified that my eyes clouded with tears and as I blinked to clear them, I saw these strange wolves moving noiselessly away. My heart continued to beat furiously, and I trembled all night.
off their own animals received 5%. There was an increased tax on the highest class of lamas, and it was now forbidden to give places in the lamaseries to children eight to eighteen years of age who were not already there. Servants employed by the feudal lords and the wealthy could claim their past wages and, in the future, work under contract. 10_480_Rossabi_2nds.indb 89 9/13/10 7:44 AM 90 Chapter 11 6. A cultural movement was under way during which the illiterate were, in a short period of
the hostilities and by fire. The Hitler fascists attacked like madmen, and even the birth place of the great October Revolution and its very monument, Leningrad, was bombed, swamped, and besieged by that 109 10_480_Rossabi_2nds.indb 109 9/13/10 7:44 AM 110 Chapter 13 “black rook” Hitler, although the Soviet Red Army and the brave Soviet people with strong determination resisted in spite of a shortage of food and drink. The conditions demanded patience and toughness from each person in order
Motherland had proven they could inevitably win this righteous fight, and they had great confidence in this victory. The day after the 7th of November, the Red Army had its traditional parade in Red Square which was quite different from parades in peacetime, and the fully armed soldiers went directly to the front from Red Square. There was a nice ceremony in Moscow while, in the air, several hundred fascist German planes attacked, although five hundred brave Soviet fighter planes prevented the