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The Travels Paperback – Sep 30 1958

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Reissue edition (Sept. 30 1958)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140440577
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140440577
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.2 x 19.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 227 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #65,734 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description


“A timeless addition to any travel collection.” --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Marco Polo travelled to China in 1271 and spent the next twenty years in the service of Kublai Khan. He wrote his famous Travels after returning home, whilst a prisoner in Genoa. Nigel Cliff's first book, The Shakespeare Riots (2007), was shortlisted for the Washington-based National Award for Arts Writing. His second book, The Last Crusade: Vasco da Gama and the Birth of the Modern World appeared in 2011.

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kevin C. B. on Sept. 5 2003
Format: Paperback
If people really try to think back, to how things were in the ancient world, and see how improbable a journey Marco Polo and his father and uncle undertook, and then completed nearly 30 years after they started, they would probably realize how unlikely such a journey was and why so many people attack Marco Polo as a fraud. Nevertheless, simply as an historical Atlas of China, and with an incredible historical context, warts and all, it is a very illuminating book, showing Chinese cities using their ancient Mongol names (in what other context would someone serving the Mongol emperor record the city names?) and allowing the reader the opportunity to research and discover for themselves, just how fascinating and mysterious other ethnicities and other cultures were to a European of the middle ages.
One of the most fascinating aspects of "The Travels" is not just some of the factual innaccuracies, but the apparent perceptions of Marco Polo, fully willing to believe he had found the final resting place of the first man, Adam, and the wizardry of other peoples, the ability to do magic, and a legend of giant "Rocs" near Madagascar, and how the Khan sent a small expedition to investigate the rumors of such.
If you want a book that makes you ask searching questions about humanity, cultural bias, and the importance of lore and myth in cultures, this book is invaluable.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Bruce Kendall on May 8 2000
Format: Paperback
This volume will enthrall anyone interested in true adventure. Marco Polo was the original Indiana Jones and then some. Please do not waste time on Gary Jennings' The Journeyer. This is the real deal and needs no dramatic embellishments. The Travels takes you on a trip from 13th century Venice to "Cathay" and back again. You will learn how Europeans found out about fireworks, paper currency, printing and pasta. The harrowing journey across the Gobi desert is particularly well reported. Marco Polo was more than an explorer. He was one of the world's first anthropologists. This is an exciting read, an account of how medieval Europe initially perceived China and the far east, and of how the Mongol rulers and Chinese emperors perceived them. Highly recommended. As to the print quality of the Penguin edition, I have had my copy since the early eighties and it has yellowed only slightly. Viking is now printing on acid-free paper. One must remember that these editions were printed primarily to reach the widest audience for the least amount of expense at the time. For years, Penguins were accessible to students and to the collector who couldn't afford an elaborate, fully illustrated, fully mapped volume of a particular work. I couldn't have read as many of them as I did in my late teens and early twenties if that were not the case. I owe a lifelong debt to the editors for their efforts. I've also never read a bad translation of any Penguin Classic.
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I think that many of us, at one time or another, have wondered about what marvelously interesting lives some of the greats of history have experienced, and felt somewhat diminished by the every day everyday of our own lives. A read of Marco Polo's travels will provide all of the, 'escape into the great unknown', that anyone could ever desire, amid page after page of why we should be careful what we wish for...... We may get it! It is a fascinating read, and well worth the lector's voyage, however, don't be surprised if, among the strange strangeness, the reader (and Marco Polo) seem to become somewhat bored with the trip and just want to tap one's ruby slippers together and go home. This too is part of Marco Polo's tale. He left Italy as a pie-eyed adolescent, and grew to manhood amid Persian caravansari, Tamerlane's glory that was Samarquand, the endless bleakness of the Taklamakand Desert, the fantasies of the Mongol court of China, and the palace life of the south seas. How does one return from a trip like that, especially when it has literally made one into what one has become.

Such is the nature of Marco Polo's post voyage travel log. It opens panaramas in time and space before the reader and allows one to see them with the eyes of a child awakening to adulthood. Curiousity becomes a way of life, and every thing learned is one more chance to survive on the road to the next adventure.

The weakness in this work is the shoddy quality of the historical plates of nonsense interpretations of what Marco Polo saw, as seen through the eyes of an Italian engraver who never traveled further than the next Italian town. High quality plates of well researched historical images of what Marco Polo saw would have been far more interesting. Baring that, no images would have improved it.
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Format: Paperback
In 1260, Niccolo Polo, the father of Marco Polo, and his brother Maffeo went across Black Sea in the hope of a profitable brisk of trade. So the brothers from Venice brought many dazzling jewels and set out from Constantinople by ship to Sudak and onward to Barku. A war broke out in Barka's Land forced the brothers to travel the opposite direction from which they had come. After they had crossed the desert, they came to Bukhara (in Persia) and by fortuity met a Tartar (Mongol) envoy on the way back to the Great Khan in Khan-balik (Beijing). On learning that they were merchants from Venice whom had never been seen in the country, the envoy invited the brothers to accompany him to Khan-balik to see the Great Khan.
The Great Khan received the brothers honorably and welcomed them with such lavish hospitality after a year's journey. The curious Khan asked the brothers about their Emperors, about the government of their dominions, about the maintenance of justice, about the Pope and practices of the Roman Church, and about the Latin customs. He decided to send emissaries to the Pope, and asked the brothers to accompany on the mission with one of his barons. He entrusted them a letter written in the Turkish language for the Pope and asked him to send a hundred prominent men learned in the Christian religion to condemn idolaters' performances and shun devil. These well versed were to demonstrate for the idolaters their capability of doing diabolic arts but would not, because only evil spirits performed such enchantments.
As the brothers approached Egypt, they got wind of the Pope's death and so they would go to Venice and visit their families pending the election of a new Pope.
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