The respected historian and travel writer, John Man, tells the remarkable story of the world's most famous traveller – Marco Polo – and the moment when East met West for the first time.
Marco Polo’s journey from Venice, through Europe and most of Asia, to the court of Kublai Khan in China is one of the most audacious in history. His account of his experiences, known simply as The Travels, uncovered an entirely new world of emperors and concubines, great buildings – ‘stately pleasure domes’ in Coleridge’s dreaming – huge armies and imperial riches. His book shaped the West’s understanding of China for hundreds of years.
John Man travelled in Marco’s footsteps to Xanadu, in search of the truth behind Marco’s stories; to separate legend from fact. Drawing on his own journey, archaeology and archival study, John Man paints a vivid picture of the man behind the myth and the true story of the great court of Kublai Khan.
About the Author
JOHN MAN is a historian and travel writer with a special interest in Mongolia. After reading German and French at Oxford he did two postgraduate courses, one in the history of science at Oxford , the other in Mongolian at the School of Oriental and African Studies. His GOBI: TRACKING THE DESERT (Weidenfeld, 1997) was the first book on the subject in English since the 1920s. He is also the author of THE ATLAS OF THE YEAR 1000, (Penguin 1999), ALPHA BETA (Headline, 2000) on the roots of the Roman alphabet, THE GUTENBERG REVOLUTION (Headline 2002) on the origins and impact of printing, and GENGHIS KHAN, ATTILA THE HUN and KUBLAI KHAN.
"I have read everything written on Marco Polo, and John Man's Xanadu is, by far, my favorite book on the subject. It's not only an over-due and important historical study, it's an entertaining ride every step of the way. As a researcher, John Man not only puts himself on the very ground that Marco traversed, he takes us with him on the epic journey." * JOHN FUSCO, Creator of "Marco Polo", a Netflix Original Series *
"[John Man] cultivates the sense of wonder in describing unknown lands and unknown peoples; making it easy to imagine being at the court of Kublai Khan, the most powerful man of the time, and experiencing the wonders of another time and place." * San Francisco Book Review *
"An in-the-footsteps-of-Marco-Polo journey through Europe to China which really makes you feel you are wearing Polo's threadbare, sweat-stained slippers as you go" * The Scotsman *
"John Man's engaging and diverting study of the historical Xanadu renders the truths as beguiling as the mythology . . . with a combination of travel writing, historical analysis and anecdote, Man uses Xanadu almost as a keyhole through which to describe larger events" * Scotland on Sunday *