Saturday, December 28, 2013

The 306 Greatest Books #119 - The Travels of Marco Polo

The next book up on my reading of the 305 Greatest Books is The Travels of Marco Polo by Marco Polo. This book can be found on the Sybervision Book List.

At first I was rather intrigued by the book. I initially assumed it was a description of the adventures had by Marco Polo on his travels through Asia. As I read into the book it appeared to be more of the history of the Khans in Asia and mostly about Kublia Kahn. This part of the book was extremely interesting and the main story was heavily supplemented by notes on the text (at least in my Everyman's version of the text). The notes comprised ~25% of the 400 pages of the story and gave many clarifications and background on the text. However as the book went on, the majority of it just described city after city within China and the surrounding regions. Many with Chinese names that are not even close to the modern names, making it almost impossible to follow the travels without using the notes. On top of that, many of the town descriptions were heavily repetitive, making it a boring read after a while. I could recommend a condensed, simplified version of the "story", but a whole version is rather a slog to get through.

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