In the late 1290s Venetian merchant Marco Polo dictated an account of his own travels in north and south China (Cathay and Manji, in Polo's terminology) to a scribe with whom he shared a prison cell in Genoa. Despite the fact that there was still no printing in Europe, the book was a popular success (in manuscript). The Travels of Marco Polo can rightly be described as the founding adventure book of the modern world. With modern China today finally occupying its rightful place on the world stage, Polo's masterpiece remains a fascinating account of 'old China' from a highly observant foreign visitor. The original manuscripts have long been lost, but the English translations by William Marsden and Henry Yule, based on hybrid versions, are each regarded as having particular strengths - and this book presents a modernised abridgement of the most reliable passages. Consisting of nearly 150 individual chapters, this beautifully produced edition is perfect for dipping into as well as more serious study. Polo's travels through Arabia, Persia, Afghanistan, Central Asia and China remained unsurpassed in scope for centuries.
His record of the manners, customs and beliefs of the diverse people he encountered are entertaining and unique. Polo was a forerunner of the great age of exploration. In his wake followed Columbus (who was inspired by Marco Polo's description of the riches of the Far East), Magellan and Vasco da Gama - and the world was changed forever.
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