The Travels of Marco Polo
by Marco Polo
Published in 1300
Thibault's Score: 4/5
Recently I have been extensively studying China's One Belt One Road policy and wrote an article on the Startup Societies blog about it.
I wanted to improve my understanding of the historical context of the Silk Road, so naturally, I decided to read the Travels of Marco Polo. This book has helped me understand what was happening during the late Middle Ages in Central Asia and has broadened my understanding of steppe peoples.
Comparing Marco Polo's travels to the Silk Road is quite interesting:
Marco Polo's travels.
China's One Belt One Road policy.
Several stories that Marco Polo recounts struck me as particularly noteworthy.
For example, he describes a region where the women sleep with any men that visit. I looked it up and now wonder if they avoided Mongols raiding / stealing their women by sleeping with them voluntarily upon their arrival.
Another story which fascinated me was Marco Polo's descriptions of the treacherous deserts of Central Asia. "Ghosts" would lure travelers, whispering in the night and telling them to stray away from their caravans to their ultimate deaths.
I also didn't realize the degree of civilization that the Mongols had established. Their empire was highly centralized, and they had an extensive road network connecting all parts of the Eurasian landmass.
The Travels of Marco Polo is an amazing historical document that opens one mind up like few others can. It also has reinforced in my mind the important role to be played Central Asia in the coming decades.
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