Xanadu/ Marco Polo
**A SOURCE FOR MARCO POLO, A NETFLIX ORIGINAL SERIES**
Marco Polo’s journey from Venice to China in the late thirteenth century was one of the most audacious ever. He uncovered an unknown world of vast wealth and exotic cities, including Xanadu, where the emperor Kublai Khan – the most powerful monarch in the 13th-century world – spent his summers.
Xanadu, famous for its ‘stately pleasure dome’, as Coleridge called it, was – and is – a reality, with a real ‘dome’ of gilded bamboo. For the first time, thanks to computer graphics, this book reveals what it may have looked like.
On his return, Marco - adventurous, curious, charming, and ambitious – became the first real travel writer, with immense consequences. But he was also infuriatingly unreliable, partly because when he finally recorded his experiences he was working with a ghost-writer who was more interested in PR than the truth.
Marco badly needed a reality check. I travelled in his footsteps from his entry into China, to Xanadu, then to Beijing. My background in Mongolian history was crucial, because Marco’s knowledge of Mongolian lays to rest the suggestion that he never went to China. I finish by telling the intriguing story of how his book was written and its enduring impact.
An engaging piece of storytelling and a very companionable journey of exploration
An erudite and lively piece of travel writing, and an excellent read
The Sunday Telegraph
John Man’s book is by far my favorite book on the subject. It’s not only an overdue and important historical study, it’s an entertaining ride every step of the way