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In the Footsteps of Marco Polo: A Companion to the Public Television Film Hardcover – November 1, 2008


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In the Footsteps of Marco Polo: A Companion to the Public Television Film + In the Footsteps of Marco Polo + The Travels of Marco Polo: The Illustrated Edition (The Illustrated Editions)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (November 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0742556832
  • ISBN-13: 978-0742556836
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 0.9 x 10.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #385,816 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The harrowing route of Marco Polo's 13th-century trek from Venice to ancient Cathay over the traditional Silk Road to Kublai Khan's territories consumed 24 years of the famous explorer's life. Award-winning photographer Belliveau and sculptor/lecturer O'Donnell, a former marine, spent two years retracing the journey,, to [t]raverse the world's largest land mass and back, climb its highest mountains, cross its most desolate deserts and seas. The curious, intrepid risk-takers forgo air travel to recreate the 25,000-mile experience, facing rolls of red tape, internecine politics, horrendous climates, language barriers, civil war and border authorities while traveling through what is now Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Tibet, China and Mongolia, among others. The authors have a remarkable ability to form relationships in varied cultures, as with a group of rough Afghan soldiers: All had in common... losses so terrible that we had stopped asking questions about families. Fascinatingly, many of the customs, locales and physical landscapes are identical, 700 years later, to Polo's descriptions. Alongside Belliveau and O'Donnell's enthusiastic narrative are marvelous full-color photos that bring the travelogue to vivid life. (Dec.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School—Following in the footsteps of arguably the greatest traveler in history is no easy task. In accessible, lively text, and with more than 200 striking photographs, Belliveau and O'Donnell make the enormity of the task abundantly clear. The determined explorers follow the long and arduous route Marco Polo took more than 700 years ago, becoming the first to retrace the entire distance on land and sea. The dangers were many: sand storms in the Taklamakan desert, subzero temperatures in the mountain passes of Tajikistan, horribly rough seas off the coast of Sumatra, and suspicious, gun-wielding soldiers at nearly every border and everywhere in Afghanistan. Marco Polo faced many of these same obstacles, but one he did not have to confront was the ridiculous complexity of postmodern bureaucracy. The greatest roadblock to the success of the authors' expedition proved to be the red tape and outright hostility involved in securing visas for travel in Afghanistan, China, India, and especially Iran. The two Americans resorted to some clever, and dangerous, maneuvers to sidestep overly zealous (and gun-toting) officials. In the end, their persistence was well worth the effort. Like Marco Polo in the 13th century, Belliveau and O'Donnell in 1994–'95 witnessed amazing sights, met wonderfully gracious and helpful people, and learned countless valuable lessons. This lavish travelogue in the grand tradition of exotic exploration should find a place in all collections.—Robert Saunderson, formerly at Berkeley Public Library, CA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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I just spent my weekend reading this great book!
Isadora
Amazing , In the footsteps of Marco polo is remarkable - truly a Great travel adventure book !
buddhaman
A good storyline, is a good storyline, is a good storyline.
Carol B.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

49 of 51 people found the following review helpful By A. Sethi on October 27, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Denis and Fran live the French proverb: "leap, and the net will appear."

And so they begin...in the spring of 1993 when the friends were both 30, with a dash of reckless bravado and a lot of testosterone, they read The Travels of Marco Polo -- finding his descriptions come to life for them, literally jumping off the pages of his book. I suggest now that they have done for modern readers what hasn't been done in the over 700 years since Polo put pen to paper.

In writing about their own travels, Denis and Fran bring to life for us contemporary readers a world only Marco Polo knew. But since we can't all travel to such exotic and distant places -- it's all the more important that their book delivers on the insights of their two years abroad. That "travel is the enemy of bigotry," that this book will easily help teach our children: "intolerance just doesn't make any sense," as Fran says.

This book is for you...if you follow your bliss, and if you can live vicariously through our dynamic duo, achieving something most of us couldn't even dream up. Hey, 1,000 people have climbed Everest. Only 2 have done what these guys did.

You'll discover that the book works on 3 levels:

1. The authors effortlessly weave exciting historical passages from Marco Polo's diaries (exciting? history? really!). Their first person narrative is the truest form of storytelling, unfolding more like Indiana Jones, then any boring History 101 class. You can almost hear the Harrison Ford voiceover as they blend their own "in the moment" thoughts with text lifted directly from Polo's journals.

2. To anchor the reader, in context, they connect their wacked, Dali-like travels to their normal lives back in NYC.
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Format: Hardcover
I just spent my weekend reading this great book! I have dreamed for the past few years of packing up and traveling the world solo for 2 years. This book was the final nail in the coffin of my own job. I'm set to go and am headed out March 2009.

The story intertwined with Marco Polo's own story and the beautiful pictures are divine. An easy read, but also a very thought provoking read.

Enjoy!!
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Salvatore P. Cinque on November 23, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
From the moment I started reading In the Footsteps of Marco Polo I felt as though I was going on the journey with Denis and Francis. The book showed feelings, emotions and at times, danger. It is so well written that one feels they themselves have travelled the path of Marco Polo.

It is truly a "must read". Once you open the book you can't stop reading it until the journey is finished and Denis & Francis are safely home with their families.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By John Coltelli on December 11, 2008
Format: Hardcover
While following their dream and the footsteps of Marco Polo, our intrepid Queens residents travel well beyond the borders of their borough, and their own psychological and spiritual limits, to discover the universality of the human condition. While encountering distant peoples and cultures these two friends confront dangers and adventures that re-establish their own places in themselves and in the world at large. Through their travels and personal growth we are presented with a revelation that is crucial in todays evermore complicated international relations, namely, that despite ethnicity, race, religion and nationality- common folks are open, decent, loving, and reflective of the God that created them. The warmth portrayed will encourage even the most faint hearted pessimist among us! A must see film, a must read book!

john coltelli
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Judith A. Dickinson on February 6, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I expected it to be a coffee table book, when my daughter gave it to me, that no one ever looks at. But once I started reading, it was as compelling as any thriller I've read. I was truly sorry to put it down at the end and look forward to sharing it with family and friends. I genuinely felt like a travel companion experiencing the same ups and downs, exhiliarating and depressing times as they felt. They brought Marco Polo's travels alive and the text and gorgeous pictures beautifully complimented each other.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Don Reed on November 23, 2009
Format: Hardcover
In The Footsteps of Marco Polo, Denis Belliveau [pron., "Bell-a-vu," as in, "déjà vu"] & Francis O'Donnell; Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc. (2008)

It's a good thing ESPN has ruined Monday Night Football.

On November 16th, 2008, after briefly listening to the longwinded, weird & obnoxious comments of Kornheiser, Tirico & The Blond Blowhard, I bolted, switching over to a PBS station - & inadvertently stumbled into the greatest thing I've seen on TV in at least the past 20 years: the video, "In The Footsteps of Marco Polo."

I didn't move for the next hour & cursed my luck that I had missed the first third of the program. The next day, I ordered IFMP, the book.

I've now read it twice, enthralled. And other than my objection to being called a "knucklehead" because I'm not buying the global warning dogma - sorry, Dennis - I have no criticisms. None. Zero.

IFMP is beautifully written. It obviously must have been edited with great care, even with love. And the photographs - taken by Belliveau & O'Donnell during their trek that recreated the journey undertaken by Marco Polo, & which illustrate the story - are enthralling.

In the complete absence of artificial light in the outback of Mongolia, at night, stand there. Look up. How many stars do you see? That's how many I'd give this book.

Oddly, the adventurers almost completely abstained from providing dates. But this worked out perfectly. Their self-elected determination was to imagine - as much as possible - that they, too, were travelers in the 13th Century. And that aim for the reader would be ruined, & their story adulterated, if the text had included the dates of the journey's events in Turkey, Afghanistan, China, etc.
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