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Marco Polo: The Journey That Changed the World
By John Man
William Morrow / HarperCollins
Reviewed by Jason Pettus
This book declares right in its subtitle that it's about the journey Marco Polo took from Italy to China back in the Medieval Age, becoming essentially the very first white person in history to give a written account to Europeans of the Far East, but that turns out to be not quite true; only half of this relatively slim book is about that, with the entire second half being a detailed archeological and anthropological guide to emperor Kublai Khan, his summer imperial city Xanadu, and other such details about ancient China that don't really have much to do with Polo or his journey at all. As such, then, although the book itself is certainly well-done, it's still getting some points knocked off today, merely because of false advertising; for I wanted to know a lot more about Polo and his journey itself, the whole reason I picked up this book, while the account given here is not much more than an extra-long Wikipedia entry, a disappointing realization for a book that promotes itself as a 350-page guide to the actual trip. Buyer beware.
Out of 10: 8.0
UPDATE: After a visit to Wikipedia, I've come to learn that Man himself originally titled this book Xanadu, giving a much clearer indication of its contents; but that when HarperCollins acquired it, they were the ones who changed it to Marco Polo: The Journey That Changed the World, so that they could release it at the same time as the Marco Polo Netflix series and pick up some cheap publicity. Shame on you, HarperCollins.