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Xanadu: Marco Polo and Europe's Discovery of…
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Xanadu: Marco Polo and Europe's Discovery of the East (edition 2009)

by John Man

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564324,763 (3.15)2
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 and 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.… (more)
Member:konallis
Title:Xanadu: Marco Polo and Europe's Discovery of the East
Authors:John Man
Info:London : Bantam Press, 2009.
Collections:Read but unowned
Rating:
Tags:travel, history, medieval history, read 2019

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Marco Polo: The Journey that Changed the World by John Man

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Showing 4 of 4
Xanadu by John Man is a highly speculative, popular science book about the location of the great Kublai Kahn's capital, and it's relative position to Beijing, the capital of China. The book offers a DIY guide to reconstructing the fabled "stately dome" as echoed in the great poem by Samuel Coleridge. The book relies heavily of the writings of Marco Polo as a source, and tries to verify these as a possible source.

The book is written in a racy style, showering a rain of interesting snippets of information, picked up from interviewing locals about the ancient history of the area around Beijing.

To be read as entertainment. ( )
  edwinbcn | Apr 2, 2016 |
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)

This book declares right in its subtitle that it's about the journey Marco Polo took from Italy to China back in the Medieval Age, becoming essentially the very first white person in history to give a written account to Europeans of the Far East, but that turns out to be not quite true; only half of this relatively slim book is about that, with the entire second half being a detailed archeological and anthropological guide to emperor Kublai Khan, his summer imperial city Xanadu, and other such details about ancient China that don't really have much to do with Polo or his journey at all. As such, then, although the book itself is certainly well-done, it's still getting some points knocked off today, merely because of false advertising; for I wanted to know a lot more about Polo and his journey itself, the whole reason I picked up this book, while the account given here is not much more than an extra-long Wikipedia entry, a disappointing realization for a book that promotes itself as a 350-page guide to the actual trip. Buyer beware.

Out of 10: 8.0

UPDATE: After a visit to Wikipedia, I've come to learn that Man himself originally titled this book Xanadu, giving a much clearer indication of its contents; but that when HarperCollins acquired it, they were the ones who changed it to Marco Polo: The Journey That Changed the World, so that they could release it at the same time as the Marco Polo Netflix series and pick up some cheap publicity. Shame on you, HarperCollins. ( )
  jasonpettus | Nov 2, 2015 |
I wasn't that enthralled. Maybe because neither Coleridge nor Marco Polo ever really fired my imagination?
  revliz | Jun 6, 2015 |
A light read but I found it very informative and interesting. I am amazed about the actual Marco Polo story, and his numerous travels. ( )
  andersondotau | Sep 11, 2010 |
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