• Title: Marco Polo: From Venice to Xanadu
  • Author: Laurence Bergreen
  • ISBN: 9781400043453
  • Page: 389
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Marco Polo From Venice to Xanadu As the most celebrated European to explore Asia Marco Polo was the original global traveler and the earliest bridge between East and West A universal icon of adventure and discovery he has inspired
    As the most celebrated European to explore Asia, Marco Polo was the original global traveler and the earliest bridge between East and West A universal icon of adventure and discovery, he has inspired six centuries of popular fascination and spurious mythology Now, from the acclaimed author of Over the Edge of the World Magellan s Terrifying Circumnavigation of the GlobeAs the most celebrated European to explore Asia, Marco Polo was the original global traveler and the earliest bridge between East and West A universal icon of adventure and discovery, he has inspired six centuries of popular fascination and spurious mythology Now, from the acclaimed author of Over the Edge of the World Magellan s Terrifying Circumnavigation of the Globe Superb A first rate historical page turner The New York Times comes the first fully authoritative biography of one of the most enchanting figures in world history In this masterly work, Marco Polo s incredible odyssey along the Silk Road and through all the fantastic circumstances of his life is chronicled in sumptuous and illuminating detail.We meet him as a callow young man, the scion of a wealthy Venetian merchant family, only seventeen when he sets out in 1271 with his father and uncle on their journey to Asia We see him gain the confidence of Kublai Khan, the world s most feared and powerful leader, and watch him become a trusted diplomat and intelligence agent in the ruler s inner circle We are privy to his far flung adventures on behalf of the Khan, living among the Mongols and other tribes, and traveling to magical cities, some far advanced over the West We learn the customs of the Khan s court, both erotic and mercantile, and Polo s uncanny ability to adapt to them We follow him on his journey back to Venice, laden with riches, the latest inventions, and twenty four years worth of extraordinary tales

    One Reply to “Marco Polo: From Venice to Xanadu”

    1. I’ve read and heard many things about Marco Polo but I have never previously read a detailed narrative about his adventures. Several years ago I tried to read a version of The Travels of Marco Polo but found it not well written and I didn’t finish. When I learned about his book I decided it was time to give it a try. I learned from this book why my first attempt at reading The Travels was unsuccessful. The original was written in colloquial French by an Italian who didn't understand French g [...]

    2. This book follows Marco Polo’s life from birth to death. We all know of his famed opus Travels, recounting his travels to China, South East Asia and India. He left with his father and uncle at the age of 17 in 1271. They returned 24 years later. What is fact and what is fiction of his stories, written in a Genoese prison with the collaboration of the romance writer and notary Rustichello of Pisa? This book tells of the events told in those stories and is a careful study in an attempt to distin [...]

    3. An exhaustive, but fortunately not quite exhausting, look at the life of Marco Polo. This book is long, and dry in a couple of spots, but manages to depict the astonishing life of Marco Polo in magnificent detail. Some of it may be conjecture, yes, but most of it seems historical verifiable--making Polo's achievements all the more extraordinary. The story begins with Polo's father--follows his path to the court of Kublai Khan and back, and then the ensuing travels of Marco, who spent more than t [...]

    4. "Marco Polo: From Venice to Xanadu" by Laurence Bergreen is an enjoyable account of the life and adventures of Marco Polo (1254-1324). Bergreen based this book on "The Travels of Marco Polo" which was dictated by Polo to the writer Rustichello da Pisa. This is an engaging narrative. At various points throughout the book, Bergreen examines the authenticity of Polo's claims (true, exaggeration, or false) but he doesn't get bogged down so that it hurts the narrative. Bergreen also discusses Polo's [...]

    5. I have always been curious about Marco Polo. Now I know what all the hype was about, the guy witnessed some pretty incredible things. No wonder after he died many believed he fabricated these stories in prison to pass time and entertain others. After Rustichello documented Marco's Travels it was re-written and re-translated many times. It wasn't until 1938 that all his stories were compiled into one text, this of course was after they had been varified years earlier. I feel fortunate to have rea [...]

    6. This is a very interesting annotation of the famous work "The Travels of Marco Polo". Laurence Bergreen brings to this book an enormous amount of research, summarizing the findings a large number of scholars. The book includes an excellent historical introduction that provides a cultural backdrop for the work. It follows Polo's "Travels" step by step through all of its color and accounts.One reason that such a book is greatly needed is that the original "Travels" is hardly well written and autho [...]

    7. Há muito tempo eu tinha curiosidade de saber como foi a história de Marco Pólo o homem que teria ido onde nenhum europeu jamais foi (ou pelo menos relatou ter ido), pois justamente tentava imaginar a sensação de conhecer lugares e povos totalmente desconhecidos, quase como se encontrássemos vida alienígena nos dias atuais. Tal viagem não poderia ser fácil portanto esperava que muitas as dificuldades desta longa viagem de mais de vinte anos, num tom narrativo, estivessem presentes no rel [...]

    8. I thought this was a great book. It is rare to read such a detailed historical account of the high middle ages corroborated with primary sources. Begreen does an excellent job of getting the reader into the mindset of 13th century Venetians as well as the other societies he came in contact with and the challenges this posed. It was also amazing to catch a glimpse of the breadth of diversity across Asia due to geography and the isolation of various societies. The challenges were also varied. At s [...]

    9. Excellent read. All right - the author had a great story to work with - 18 year old Italian gets on a boat and a horse, rides to Mongolia, meet the Emperor Kublai Khan, delivers message back to Pope and rides back to Mongolia, becomes a tax assessor and an advisor to the Khan and journeys through the Khan's massive Empire before going back to Venice decades later and retiring. With this impressive historical tale it’s hard to write a bad book. Still, the author does add to the basic history. I [...]

    10. I would suspect that this is a rather difficult biography to write – Marco Polo would seem to be a rather enigmatic personality. Many of his observations and recordings are true, but others exaggerated and/or based on hearsay. Did Marco Polo really travel to Burma and Java? Although he traversed Eastern Europe and the vast Asian landmass with his uncle and father, he gives them very little credit (it was their second such expedition). Marco Polo’s travels extended over twenty years and the t [...]

    11. I loved this book. Marco Polo brought the East back home to the West after being trapped in Kublai Khan's palace and kingdom for 17 years. The good news was that allowed him to get to know the Mongols pretty well, and the Chinese some. He learned about paper money, good sewage treatment, and the welfare state (who knew the Mongols 'invented' that!). In return, he brought those seige engines that can lob infected corpses over city walls, a European idea which fascinated and appalled the Mongols. [...]

    12. Pretty interesting book about the life of Marco Polo, focusing mainly on his years of traveling to China and the far east, his relationship with Kublai Khan, and his interactions with various cultures of people he met along the way. We know about Marco Polo based on his own writing that he did while in a Genoese prison, written with the help of a romance writer from Pisa, and written first in broken French. Based on this, there is a lot of skepticism as to the validity of much of what we know ab [...]

    13. Despite the title, Marco Polo is incidental to this book – what Bergreen really wants to do is take his readers on a journey through the ancient world that Polo inhabited, delighting and titillating them with juicy gossip about everything from bizarre Tatar sex customs to the gory details of Japanese warfare and Chinese silk production. Given the sketchy historical records on many of these cultural details and events, the narrative frequently veers into the realm of speculation, which diminish [...]

    14. I was rather unimpressed once I finished reading it. It came across as just another author attempting to offer analysis on Travels without giving that much analysis honestly. While the subject is quite interesting, I was left bored in several spots, and considered just putting it away before it was completed. The author seems to waver on the actual point of why he's writing the book. Marco Polo offers many reasons to write and the author focuses on none, and instead just drifts around the his st [...]

    15. A very good introduction to Marco Polo and the societies he travelled through as well as an analysis of The Travels' accuracy. Laurence Bergreen approaches his topic with sympathy and has widely researched the history not just of Polo but the Silk Road, China, and all the civilizations he travelled through. Marco Polo: From Venice to Xanadu is both enlightening and informative. Recommended for those interested in Polo and those interested in the civilizations of the Silk Road. Rating: 4 out of 5 [...]

    16. Text concludes on page 361 in my copy of this book; the remainder is notes and so on. I felt like this book was slow to get started, and perhaps the end dragged on a bit too long, but otherwise I found it quite engrossing. I do wish there had been a larger, more prominently featured map of Asia and of Polo's possible route throughout; there were only 2 maps in the whole book, and one of those was a reproduction of an antique map that was difficult to read. The other was better, but appeared 300 [...]

    17. Overall this seems to be a good account of Marco Polo's life and travels (I haven't actually read his Travels yet, so I can't really judge) with attempts to verify the truth of his accounts with comparison to other sources such as Chinese histories. But sometimes it feels like the author has pet theories that can only be supported with speculation and subjective opinions.

    18. I am not a fan of Bergreen's popularizations or his prose, and in any case there are better alternatives, including Larner and, not least by any means, the introduction and copious notes to the 1920 Yule-Cordier edition of Marco's book itself. Or if you like your history through purple lenses you could wait for the movie.

    19. A really good readable book. Mr. Berggren does a commendable job of analyzing the verbal initially published odyssey for documented fact, probable exaggeration and fantasy. The intro is wonderful as is the summary. Details on the many travels gets a little tedious but the book is very readable.

    20. This book really held my attention. Although existence was violent and brutal, there were a lot of great ideas and discoveries that proved to advance civilization in Mongolia under the rule of Kublai Khan in the 1200's. Marco Polo spent many years as a merchant and tax collector under Kublai Khan. He kept a journal of all the experiences he had with cultures that were unknown to the civilizations in the west. He wrote a book but many people thought most of it was made up or exaggerated and they [...]

    21. Knowing nothing more than common lore, I imagined Marco Polo as something like a Medieval travel writer/Scheherazade, globe trotting across Asia and spinning tales of the exotic East for a European audience hungry for novelty. I knew he’d brought back artifacts and curiosities—spices, gunpowder?, silk. I knew he was Venetian. I knew little--all right, nothing--else.Laurence Bergreen’s admirable biography shines revealingly on the life and times of this important link between the amazingly [...]

    22. The most fascinating thing about Marco Polo's travels is not how much he saw, but about how much he thought, felt and who he became. I didn't know it's possible, but reading this book did changed my view about culture exchange in the ancient times, and made me much more optimistic about my own travel and the possibilities of the future.

    23. Indeed an interesting subject, but I had trouble getting through this book since it was not focussed enough. Too many words about too many subjects. However, the lesson learned from the book is quite clear: When cultures cross and your mind is open, great evolution will happen.

    24. Superb. Stupendous. Encyclopedic in scope. A wealth of detail. A masterpiece of scholarship but not one dull moment anywhere. Excellently well written. Amazing. I could not put it down.

    25. Prior to reading this I was almost completely unfamiliar with Marco Polo. Upon completion of the book, my first thought was that he was somehow a companion. I've traveled the Silk Road as part of the Polo Company, sharing adventures and observations and writing them down. (Indeed I took prodigious notes throughout the reading, jotting down particularly interesting facts that I wanted to retain or research further.)The book opens with a vivid portrait of Venice in the High Middle Ages, an advance [...]

    26. “Marco Polo: From Venice to Xanadu” kicks off with a bang, describing a naval battle financed and fought by Polo after returning from his famous journey. His capture and subsequent imprisonment turned out to be a fortuitous occurrence -- he was treated as an honored house guest and met Rustichello, a popular writer of the time and eventual coauthor on the story of Marco’s travels. From here we are transported back twenty years, to the start of the journey with his father and uncle to China [...]

    27. This book was interesting. As I got into this audiobook, I began to want to read the original - the one "written" by Marco Polo and Rustichello of Pisa. That urge didn't last too long. The epilog section of this make it clear to me that this book is a much better choice. The original was written in bad French, no original manuscript survives, and the order of events is sometimes confused. There are 150 manuscripts that survive - no two are alike. Therefore, I am pleased to have "read" this one. [...]

    28. To start let me say, you should at least skim this book; don't be too put off by the bad reviews. I'm glad I stuck it out until the end because the author suddenly found his voice. All the strange asides, odd snippets of commentary, and racy sexual descriptions better suited to a modern romance novel than serious history that distracted and annoyed me during the tale itself came together in a stirring - even graceful - conclusion. Clearly the author did a massive amount of research into sources. [...]

    29. MARCO POLO: FROM VENICE TO XANADU BY LAURENCE BERGREEN: Laurence Bergreen, whose last book, Over the Edge of the World, charted Magellan’s circumnavigation of the world, returns with a fresh and thorough biography on the remarkable and renowned thirteenth century traveler, Marco Polo. Marco Polo begins in a style that is becoming modern with biographies such as Caroline Alexander’s Bounty, near the end of Marco Polo’s life when he is a renowned traveler of noble stature and wealth; this ma [...]

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