I recently read a fabulous book, Ghenghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World.
The author, Jack Weatherford, outlines Khan's amazing life story and rise from outcast/orphaned Mongol nomad to ruler of the world's largest ever empire. The book serves as a major rehabilitation of Khan's legacy and transforms the traditional view of Ghenghis Khan from brutal tyrant to transformative ruler who spread the rise of free trade, religious freedom, science, standards, paper currency, postal services and communications, and national identities in lieu of tribalism, religious persecution, and autarky.
Khan's genius lies in his ability to transcend his circumstances and envision completely novel means of organizing armies, ruling empires, and structuring society (merit vs hereditary and tribal). An Indian friend of mine and admirer of Khan's describes him as being "self-born," a force in history with no precedent and a man of ideas and achievement completely non-linear to his context and roots.
The reviews on AMZN are excellent and for the Western reader, the author challenges long-held stereotypes and reintroduces a familiar historical figure in a new, influential light.