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Marco Polo

From Venice to Xanadu
Written by: Laurence Bergreen
Narrated by: Paul Boehmer
Length: 16 hrs and 29 mins
Categories: History, World
4.5 out of 5 stars (10 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

As the most celebrated European to explore Asia, Marco Polo was the original global traveler and the earliest bridge between East and West. A universal icon of adventure and discovery, he has inspired six centuries of popular fascination and spurious mythology. Now, from acclaimed author Laurence Bergreen, comes the first fully authoritative biography of one of the most enchanting figures in world history. In this masterly work, Marco Polo's incredible odyssey, along the Silk Road and through all the fantastic circumstances of his life, is chronicled in sumptuous and illuminating detail.

Drawing on original sources in more than half a dozen languages, and his own travels along Polo's route in China and Mongolia, Bergreen explores the lingering controversies surrounding Polo's legend, settling age-old questions and testing others for significance. Synthesizing history, biography, and travelogue, this is a timely chronicle of a man who extended the boundaries of human knowledge and imagination. Destined to be the definitive account of its subject for decades to come, Marco Polo takes us on a journey to the limits of history: and beyond.

©2007 Laurence Bergreen (P)2007 Books on Tape

What members say

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Much more than a retelling

The story of this epic journey is paramount; however, the author invests much of the book trying to bring Marco Polo to life as a real historical figure. He also delves into the challenges that historians have in distilling fact from fancy, the issues of translation and bias, and the inconsistencies between surviving accounts.

There was a spot in the middle of the book that was weaker than the rest; but, the second half is very engaging.

The narration was excellent.

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  • PETER
  • 2013-01-02

Educational and Entertaining but a bit repetitive

I enjoy any history book and probably ignore more than the average reader in story or performance shortcomings. This book contained a wealth of history and unique perspective, although I found it somewhat repetitive. The performance and production was good and easy to follow and listen to, but I don't think many non-history buffs would have stuck with it.

9 people found this helpful

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  • Claude Farden
  • 2015-09-10

Great story.

the narration was clear but the book is best listened to at 1.25 speed. I made many bookmarks for facts that are I don't want to forget. Marco Polo is a fantastic character and his journey will forever stay in my memory.

Additionally, if you have watched the Netflix series you will find interesting omissions and additions to the historical story.

6 people found this helpful

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  • GVad The Pilot
  • 2016-01-16

Not the usual book...

As someone said before, its a bit hard to follow.

Its more of a historical lesson where the author analyzes Marco Polo's story against historical facts than anything else, as well as pushing home how important Marco Polo's stories of his travels were. Because of this the author at times jumps back and forth, making it a bit more challenging to follow.

Also, as someone else said, I hope someone writes this "story" properly from a first point of view. It would make an outstanding book.

Otherwise, it is a great history lesson, and being a history lover, I really enjoyed it.

5 people found this helpful

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  • C. Allen
  • 2018-04-20

Masterful

A very interesting and well written account of Marco Polo's travels on the Silk Road to Xanadu and the court of Kublai Khan. Weaving the Travels with centuries of scholarship into a readable and insightful narrative. A perfect blend of history and romance, of poetry and travelogue through the 13th Century of the vast Mongolian Empire.

2 people found this helpful

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  • RP
  • 2015-05-08

Amazing review of Polo's travels and relevance

This recording very much met my expectations. Marco Polo lived an amazing life, and Bergreen has arranged it in an amazing way here, revealing his masterful understanding of Polo's life and writings. The narrator was a good match for the subject. I was never bored, with such a wide range of subjects involved.

2 people found this helpful

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  • logan
  • 2019-03-25

Probably one of my favorite audiobooks ever.

what a fantastic story told easy to follow super interesting format. very informative without being too dry, this is more the Layman's reading of ancient history which is perfectly fine for me. you'll get Chinese Mongol and Venetian all wrapped into one

1 person found this helpful

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  • karie
  • 2018-01-28

Very enjoyable and informative

Marco Polo comes alive. I learned much about him, the areas, the times...most enjoyable. The reader has a very soothing, enjoyable voice.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Jose
  • 2016-12-31

Marco the Traveler, Great Story

Narrator is good, no complaints.

The story is very good and will surprise you on the nature of Polo's time in Asia. He was with his father and uncle the entire time, but it's only because Marco was bored and in a Genovese jail as a prisoner-of-war that we know this story. He father and uncle wrote no story, we just know Marco's story.

Marco went to Asia as a teenager and came back to Venice as a man, nearly 40 years old. Amazing story to follow.

1 person found this helpful

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  • M
  • 2020-03-12

Good, but...

Overall this is a good and interesting read/listen. However, the author has a very stereotypical and prejudicial view on the Mongolians, and continues to perpetuate these bad stereotypes. The author will flat out infer that Polo must have been confused or under duress to write favorably about Kubalai Khan. Sometimes, even to the point where the author will contradict himself on how Polo is to be a trusted source and in the same breath disavow Polo's esteem for the Mongolian people and the Kubalai. The radicalized stereotype of Mongolians being a monolith of raping, killing, uncouth, and dare I say, "savages"; is once again perpetuated by westerners not able see different as anything other than wrong.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2019-12-17

A great summary of an even greater story

Upon listening to this audiobook, I was more keen on finding/listening to the original source of Polo's Travels. Not only am I not disappointed but am grateful that I chose Laurence Bergreen's summary of Master Polo's account.

While there are a few parts towards the end that seem a bit out-of-order, the overall experience was intriguing and informative,

The audiobook was hard to listen to in one sitting, owe to the duration and slightly monotone voice of the performer; however, the tactful analysis of the many vague depictions by Polo and balanced commentary on the many varied responses to the Travels makes for a insightful listen.

I would recommend Marco Polo: From Venice to Xanadu to anyone with even a passing interest in Medieval History/Politics/Religion, travel, or Marco Polo in general.