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The Travels of Marco Polo Reissue Edition

3.4 out of 5 stars 143 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0140440577
ISBN-10: 0140440577
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"A timeless addition to any travel collection." --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.

Language Notes

Text: English (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Reissue edition (September 30, 1958)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140440577
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140440577
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.9 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (143 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #62,175 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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Format: Paperback
This is a fascinating and timeless narrative for many reasons. On a somewhat superficial level, Polo's book is a must read for lovers of travel or adventure stories, as it reads like a great lost book of the Bible, rife with historic vengeance, heroic warriors, eccentric mystics, penultimate battles and rallying speeches that seem torn out of the best passages of Thucydides. Many of the practices and beliefs Polo witnessed -- specifically, polygamous peoples, perspectives on sexuality, methods of execution and the dazzling ways in which the people Polo came across attempted to please the gods and interpret the cosmos -- offer a memorable glimpse into a unique historical epoch. Particularly engrossing are the stories of violent tensions between Christian and Islamic sects in Polo's day and region. One gets a sense that not much has changed in the past 800 years as Polo details the struggles between the eastern and western world even then, many of which redound to financial issues (sound familiar?). Polo's insistence on portraying Moslems and Buddhists as savage rogues does make for a one-dimensional and distinctly Christian view of the world as it was in Polo's day, and his language is hardly the most attractive aspect of the book, which is written in a particularly conversational and redundant style. But the stories and characters contained within these pages are epic and unforgettable. I encourage lovers of Tolkein, C.S. Lewis and Rowling to read this book. Lovers of ancient history and philosophy are also bound to adore it. Most impressively, though, is the insight Polo offers into the birth of the now-infamous rift between the western and eastern worlds. This enduring relevance guarantees that we will be reading Polo's "Travels" for centuries to come.
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Format: Paperback
If your desire is purely technical, you can't do any better than this. However, if you plan to read this book strictly for enjoyment, then thumbtack your eyelids up. The translation is quite literal, bringing you the repetitive references, archaic descriptives, and provincial wherewithal of the time. It is brutal and requires every ounce of perserverence to read from cover to cover. I was in pain as I forced myself through countless redundancies in thickly worded prose that left me yearning to drop the book and set off on another. It was a battle to stay engaged. But, I finish the books I start and saw it through to the end. Knowledge was gleaned and that's a positive. However, the book is better employed as a reference. Godspeed, determined reader.
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Format: Paperback
The Travels by Marco Polo. Penguin Books. 1958.

In any review, the reader has to be compelled to have an interest in the subject. What is it about this 800 year old story that would interest the reader? I had always believed that this book was an adventure story about the first European explorer into the mid east and China. I do not know where this notion came from but on both counts, it is wrong. I picked it up and read it because I continually see references from other modern, authors.

What is compelling about the book is the writer's anthropological approach (however primitive) to viewing the societies that were racially and culturally different from the upper crust European society he was raised in. There is a generosity of spirit in this book that will be detailed more further down.

It should be noted that like, Benvenuto Cellini's Autobiography, this book features hyperbole if not out right fantasy throughout. There is more than one version of The Travels as well. This book is not written in the first person as it actually is an "As told to" account that apparently was "told to" more than one transcriber. There has been much debate over the years about its veracity but that is for someone else to write about. I chose to read this book as if it were fact and not to fret over the overall truth or its details. That being said lets get into the story.

Over a period of about 24 years, the young Marco Polo joined his merchant father and his uncle in pursuit of the expansion of their mercantile trade into new regions. This concept should be familiar to any reader who reads about venture capitalism and Red China today. The dynamics may differ but the logic is the same.
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