Friday, August 21, 2009
Marco Polo from Venice to Xanadu
Marco Polo from Venice to Xanadu by Laurence Bergreen is a fascinating biography of a fascinating man. Mr. Bergreen is well known for his other biographies and for being a man who writes definitive biographies of famous people who have since passed on. He does just that with his biography of Marco Polo. Marco Polo had some fantastic adventures and having not read his book, I felt just fine reading the biography. Mr. Bergreen has made sure that he has researched well his topic and can present readers with a good picture of what the main character of his biographies may have seen, from strange (to us) customs, and experiences that are unique to his time. Laurence really did his research, and presented an excellent view of the court of Kublai Khan, as well as some of the reasons as to why the Mongolians of this particular era were such a feared fighting force, and some of the ways that the force was eventually defeated. Mr. Begreen also presented the role of foreigners in the court system, and the reasons why Kublai Khan would have employed them, and what Marco Polo's probable role was in the court. Mr. Bergreen takes some time to discuss the views on the modern work not being the same as the account written by Marco Polo so many years prior, and why there was such a difference between the types and where he thinks the most accurate account lies. The book was a fascinating study in Marco Polo and his works.