Marco Polo: The Journey that Changed the World

Marco Polo: The Journey that Changed the World

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by John Man
     
 

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"I have read everything written on Marco Polo, and John Man's book is, by far, my favorite work on the subject. It's not only an over-due and important historical study, it's an entertaining ride every step of the way." — John Fusco, Creator of the Netflix original series Marco Polo

The true history behind the Netflix original

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Overview

"I have read everything written on Marco Polo, and John Man's book is, by far, my favorite work on the subject. It's not only an over-due and important historical study, it's an entertaining ride every step of the way." — John Fusco, Creator of the Netflix original series Marco Polo

The true history behind the Netflix original series Marco Polo, here is the remarkable story of the world's most famous traveler, retracing his legendary journey from Venice to China, the moment East first met West.

In 1271, a young Italian merchant named Marco Polo embarked on a groundbreaking expedition from Venice, through the Middle East and Central Asia to China. His extraordinary reports of his experiences introduced medieval Europe to an exotic new world of emperors and concubines, amazing cities, huge armies, unusual spices and cuisine, and imperial riches. Marco Polo also revealed the wonders of Xanadu, the summer capital of Mongol emperor Kublai Khan.

Almost 750 years later, acclaimed author John Man traveled in Marco Polo's footsteps to Xanadu then on to Beijing and through modern China in search of the history behind the legend. In this enthralling chronicle, Man draws on his own journey, new archaeological findings, and deep archival study to paint a vivid picture of Marco Polo and the great court of Kublai Khan.

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Editorial Reviews

The Guardian
“An engaging piece of storytelling and a very companionable journey of exploration.”
Sunday Telegraph
“An erudite and lively piece of travel writing, and an excellent read.”
Scotland on Sunday
“John Man’s engaging and diverting study of the historical Xanadu renders the truths as beguiling as the mythology . . . with a combination of travel writing, historical analysis and anecdote, Man uses Xanadu almost as a keyhole through which to describe larger events.”
Scotsman (A Best Book of the Year selection)
“Beautifully charted. ... An in-the-footsteps-of-Marco-Polo journey through Europe to China which really makes you feel you are wearing Polo’s slippers as you go.”
Asian Review of Books
“Enjoyable. ... Fascinating. ... Man’s erudition and hands-on approach to solving historical questions is endearing and keeps the pages turning.”
Simon Sebag Montefiore
“One could ask for no better storyteller or analyst than John Man.”
John Fusco
“I have read everything written on Marco Polo, and John Man’s book is, by far, my favorite work on the subject. It’s not only an over-due and important historical study, it’s an entertaining ride every step of the way.”
Michael Palin
“John Man’s ability to put us in the picture, to feel, smell, and almost touch the surroundings he describes, is matched by his ability to tell a good story.”
Lonely Planet
“Inspiring for travelers.”
San Francisco Book Review
“Great good fun. ... [Man] cultivates the sense of wonder in describing unknown lands and unknown peoples, making it easy to imagine being at the court of Kublai Khan, the most powerful man of the time, and experiencing the wonders of another time and place.”
Kirkus Reviews
2014-10-08
British historian Man (Samurai: A History, 2014, etc.) chronicles his journey to Asia where Marco Polo first led the Western traveler. The book was first published in the U.K. in 2009 as Xanadu.Interest in Polo's 13th-century travel account seemingly never wanes, as more knowledge is gained about the Mongol Empire in particular. The author has sifted through Polo's fanciful tale—ghosted by his fellow inmate in the Genoa prison, romance author Rustichello da Pisa—separating fairy-tale self-aggrandizement from truth. Moreover, Man has trekked across China in pursuit of the site of Kublai Khan's legendary "upper capital" and summer palace, Shangdu ("Xanadu" in English, thanks to Samuel Taylor Coleridge's dreamy poem), where Polo would have stayed. Man even reconstructed the "Pleasure Dome," virtually and in painstaking description. Marco's 17-year stay at the court of the khan was preceded by a first visit by his father and uncle, and the khan greeted them rapturously, eager to learn about Europe and Christianity (he tolerated the Nestorians, as well as Buddhists and Daoists). Marco was 17 when he made the three-and-a-half-year trip back to Xanadu with his relatives, through eastern Turkey, Armenia, Iraq and into Persia, a route carefully plotted by Man (with useful maps). Polo's observations are compelling, but his omissions are intriguing, and Man rushes to fill them with accounts of his own travels with a guide across the Asian steppes and desert. Polo's admiration for Kublai Khan is remarkable. He was amazed by the beauty of the women and paper money, yet he did not mention foot binding or the Great Wall and lied about providing the engineering prowess for the catapult necessary to break the siege of Xiangyang in 1273. Marvelous tales that first inspired the Western traveler to see and learn more.
Library Journal
★ 11/01/2014
In the 13th century, Venetian merchant Marco Polo traveled to the court of Kublai Khan in China. He returned 24 years later. Or did he? Owing to some outlandish tales and verified falsehoods, some have questioned whether or not he actually made the journey. Historian Man (Ninja: 1000 Years of the Shadow Warrior) examines the claims made in The Travels of Marco Polo, the merchant's notable travelog, by investigating locations in China and by comparing Polo's descriptions with the writings of later explorers. The author comes to the conclusion that Polo's stories are sometimes grossly exaggerated but are usually based on a kernel of truth, and that Polo did indeed go to China. Man also reveals how Polo's travels influenced later explorers such as Christopher Columbus. This book is a source for the new Netflix series, Marco Polo, to be released in December 2014. VERDICT An enjoyable read that is recommended for anyone with a general interest in the subject. For a different perspective on Polo's travels see Frances Wood's Did Marco Polo Go to China?—Joshua Wallace, Ranger Coll., TX

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062375070
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
11/11/2014
Pages:
400
Sales rank:
402,674
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.10(d)

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