Sagang Sechen, "The Precious Summary: A History of the Mongols from Chinggis Khan to the Qing Dynasty" (Columbia UP, 2023)


Buddhist cosmological history of the universe, history of Chinggis Khan, history of China, and history of the Mongols — The Precious Summary, written in 1662 by Sagang Sechen, is many things. As a whole, it is the most important work of Mongolian history on the period before the rise of the Manchu Qing dynasty.

The Precious Summary: A History of the Mongols from Chinggis Khan to the Qing Dynasty (Columbia University Press 2023), translated by Johan Elverskog, is not only a fluid and lucid translation, but by adding extensive annotations and helpful introductions, Elverskog has made this epic history approachable to readers today. Whether you are well-versed in the Mongol-Oirat wars or if the name Altan Khan doesn’t (yet) mean anything to you, this is a fabulous introduction to Mongolian historiography that should be of interest to anyone looking to learn more about Mongolian sources, Inner Asian history, and the history of Buddhism in Asia.

Johan Elverskog is Dedman Family Distinguished Professor, Professor of Religious Studies, and, by courtesy, Professor of History at Southern Methodist University. This is his second time on New Books, and you can hear a conversation about one of his other books, The Buddha’s Footprint: An Environmental History of Asia (University of Pennsylvania Press 2020) here.

Sarah Bramao-Ramos is a PhD candidate in History and East Asian Languages at Harvard. She works on Manchu language books and is interested in anything with a kesike. She can be reached at

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Sarah Bramao-Ramos

Sarah Bramao-Ramos is a Research Assistant Professor at the Society of Fellows in the Humanities at the University of Hong Kong. She is a cultural historian of Qing China (1644–1911), with a particular interest in Manchu studies. She can be reached at
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