Sunday, 7 September 2008

Marco Polo by Laurence Bergreen

One of my latest acquisitons. Although quite a number of books about this subject have been published in the last 20 years, this book is very pleasant, readable and accurate.

During the Middle Ages, most Europeans were poor peasants who never ventured more than a few miles beyond their villages. During this provincial era, Venetian merchant Marco Polo traveled almost all the known world. Like a water bug skimming across a pond, Polo journeyed to the ancient Holy Land, the Levantine, Arabia, Asia Minor, central Asia, Cathay (China), India, Southeast Asia, Africa and to other exotic lands. The captain of a Venetian ship, Polo eventually was captured by the Genoese after a brutal naval battle. He spent many long days and nights in jail describing nearly two decades of remarkable travel to fellow inmate, writer and avid note-taker Rustichello da Pisa. Polo told of serving as a trusted emissary for the fabled Kublai Khan, emperor of the Mongols. Polo's remarkable story became a hugely influential book, //The Travels of Marco Polo//. Like someone spinning a yarn of his adventures as an intergalactic warrior in the far reaches of outer space, Polo told a tale that was almost mythical - yet in most particulars absolutely true and accurate. getAbstract finds that Laurence Bergreen's fascinating biography of Polo ably describes him and his fabulous adventures in comprehensive detail and great color. You owe it to yourself to explore this delightful book.

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