Hardcover: Alfred A. Knopf, 2007
Trade Paperback: Vintage, 2008
England: Quercus Publishing
Brazil: Editora Objetiva
China: Hainan Publishing House
Holland: De Bezige Bij
Hungary: General Press Kiado
Indonesia: Elex Media
Poland: Rebis Spolka
Portugal, Oficina do Livro Sociedad
Russia: AST Publishers
Serbia: Laguna Publishing House
Sweden: Leopard Förlag
Marco Polo opened Asia to European trade, so we’re told, but we generally don’t know much else. Laurence Bergreen remedies that by bolstering Polo’s reputation and arguing for his historical importance in a book as enthralling as a rollicking travel journal. Bergreen, who has written biographies of Louis Armstrong, James Agee and Irving Berlin, turned his attention to ancient explorers with “Over the Edge of the World,” which tracked Ferdinand Magellan’s circumnavigation of the globe. I was a fan of that book, but “Marco Polo” far outshines it, and not surprisingly.
In his splendid “Marco Polo: From Venice to Xanadu”, the well-known biographer Laurence Bergreen offers not so much a conventional biography as the lively reconstruction of a supreme adventure. To accomplish this, he has assimilated a vast body of scholarly literature in several languages. For the original sources, whether in Chinese or Mongolian or Persian, he has relied on experts from London to Ulan Bator, Mongolia, and Beijing. He has woven this complicated, and often conflicting, material into a dramatic and beautifully written narrative. Best of all, he has himself retraced Polo’s elusive footsteps in Mongolia and China so that as we read, we often seem to be but one step behind the inquisitive Venetian. The marvellous plates, which include color reproductions of medieval miniatures as well as spectacular photographs of the Silk Road and other exotic sites, enhance this unexpected feeling of immediacy.
Jonathan Spence, author of Emperor of China
This is an enthusiastic retelling of Marco Polo’s timeless story. Laurence Bergreen draws from a broad range of the surviving Polo manuscripts to create a convincing portrait of how Marco was able to get to thirteenth century China, and of what he saw, felt and did when he got there. Readers unfamiliar with Polo’s adventures will find much pleasure here.
Simon Winchester, author of The Map That Changed the World
At last! Marco Polo comes to life! Laurence Bergreen, perhaps America’s liveliest biographer, has created a triumph of fascinations, a classic portrait that now surely can never be bettered.
Booklist[An] exciting reconstruction of the extraordinary life of Marco Polo…impressively researched and deftly composed.
- Outside Magazine’s “Greatest Adventure Bios Ever Written” – Ranked #3, November 2009
- Book-of-the-Month Club Featured Selection November 2007
- Military Book Club Featured Selection
- History Book Club Featured Selection
- Conde Nast Traveler “New Classic” Travel Read, September 2007
- Booklist Top 10 Biographies of 2007