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Marco Polo Didn't Go There: Stories and Revelations from One Decade as a Postmodern Travel Writer [Paperback]

Rolf Potts

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Book Description

Sept. 1 2008 Travelers' Tales Guides
'Marco Polo Didn't Go There' is a collection of rollicking travel tales from a young writer 'USA Today' has called "Jack Kerouac for the Internet Age." For the past ten years, Rolf Potts has taken his keen postmodern travel sensibility into the far fringes of five continents for such prestigious publications as 'National Geographic Traveler,,' and 'The New York Times Magazine'. This book documents his boldest, funniest, and most revealing journeys—from getting stranded without water in the Libyan desert, to crashing the set of a Leonardo DiCaprio movie in Thailand, to learning the secrets of Tantric sex in a dubious Indian ashram.

'Marco Polo Didn't Go There' is more than just an entertaining journey into fascinating corners of the world. The book is a unique window into travel writing, with each chapter containing a "commentary track"—endnotes that reveal the ragged edges behind the experience and creation of each tale. Offbeat and insightful, this book is an engrossing read for students of travel writing as well as armchair wanderers.

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Marco Polo Didn't Go There: Stories and Revelations from One Decade as a Postmodern Travel Writer + Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 344 pages
  • Publisher: Travelers' Tales (Sept. 1 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1932361618
  • ISBN-13: 978-1932361612
  • Product Dimensions: 20.1 x 12.7 x 2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 340 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #345,435 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"Potts is one of the best travel writers to emerge in the last decade. Intrepid and thoughtful, he's a Paul Theroux for the backpacker generation, and Marco Polo reflects this." --San Francisco Chronicle "This hilarious collection of stories provokes because Potts asks the serious question of how to travel in a discovered world. ...If you aspire to be a travel writer, read this book." --The Guardian (U.K.) "Potts isn't so much a travel reporter as a story teller. ...He's more about getting under the skin of a place -- detailing a cast of characters that would either enthrall or scare the hell out of most travelers, depending on where they come down on the trust-paranoia continuum." --Orange County Register "An equal mix of humor and enlightenment...Potts shows travelers and would-be travelers the joy of immersing oneself in a foreign culture." --St. Louis Post-Dispatch "Best Books of 2008" "Potts, Internet raconteur and travel-advice sage, is the kind of guy you wish the pubs had more of: well traveled, generous with funny stories, eager to listen to yours. You feel envious that you weren't with him in Cairo to share the convivial squalor of a backpacker hotel, or at an Indian ashram to study Tantric sex, or even in the Libyan Desert, in the dark, out of water and lost. And he's able to draw insights from all that without draining the fun out of the conversation -- difficult to carry off in a pub or a book." --The Washington Post "Armchair travelers will get an enormous kick out of this thoroughly entertaining book." --Booklist

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.6 out of 5 stars  23 reviews
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent collection Sept. 3 2008
By Xandernut - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Rolf Potts is one of the many travel writers to begin his career via the
Internet via Salon, and the book is a collection of his earliest from to his recent works from magazines and literary journals. Most of his stories are available elsewhere, so the true draw of this book is the commentaries, which add humor, insight, and occasionally share his frustrations on both the topics and people in the stories, as well as the craft of professional travel writing. The essays themselves run from the humorous ("Storming the Beach") to the painful ("Death of an Adventure Traveler"). The stories explore both sights and sounds of his wanderings and the nature of travel itself, such as the comparison of travelers versus tourists and the business of travel and people's expectations therein. Armchair wanders will love the book, and those who dream of writing about travel for a living will find the book very useful as well as entertaining.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly entertaining Sept. 26 2008
By Justin - Published on
Rolf's other book, Vagabonding, is a must-have guide for anyone interested in travel, regardless of age, intended destination, length of trip, or particular travel philosophy. It's been like a travel bible to me, passing it on to friends and family young and old to help explain why it is I enjoy travel so much, and hoping they catch the bug too.

So it was with great interest I picked up Rolf's second book, Marco Polo Didn't Go There. First, this book is different from Vagabonding -- it's not really a practical travel guide. It's a collection of stories from Rolf's career as a travel writer. I had read many of them before, as they appeared in popular travel magazines and websites in the past, but what makes this book unique is his end notes on each story. They act as a portal into the life of a travel writer, filling in the gaps between the paragraphs, and telling the stories that didn't fit into the story.

If you have any interest in travel, becoming a travel writer yourself, or maybe even just learning how a travel writer travels and writes, pick up this book. It's funny, enlightening, and highly entertaining.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding! Oct. 13 2008
By Gsp - Published on
Already one of my favourite books! The stories are great in and of themselves, but the unique commentary feature really makes this book standout! Well done again Rolf!!!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Document your travels June 29 2009
By adp113 - Published on
Good book. Stories about traveling off the beaten path, avoiding tourist traps and planned & canned experiences. If you have traveled alone, you'll understand this book. If you only take well planned and led tours, you'll see what you are missing.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An outstanding set of vivid travel stories Sept. 18 2009
By Midwest Book Review - Published on
For the past ten years author Rolf Potts has taken his travel passion to the corners of the earth. This collects his funniest and most dramatic stories, from being stranded without water in the Libyan Desert to learning about Tantric sex in an Indian ashram and investigating the 'real' Australia. An outstanding set of vivid travel stories from a world gypsy traveler makes for exceptional armchair reading recommended for any general lending library.

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