In the Footsteps of Marco Polo: A Companion to the Public Television Film

In the Footsteps of Marco Polo: A Companion to the Public Television Film

by Denis Belliveau, Francis O'Donnell


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Did Marco Polo reach China? This richly illustrated companion volume to the public television film chronicles the remarkable two-year expedition of explorers Denis Belliveau and Francis O'Donnell as they sought the answer to this controversial 700-year-old question. With Polo's book, The Travels of Marco Polo, as their guide, they journeyed over 25,000 miles becoming the first to retrace his entire path by land and sea without resorting to helicopters or airplanes.

Surviving deadly skirmishes and capture in Afghanistan, they were the first Westerners in a generation to cross its ancient forgotten passageway to China, the Wakhan Corridor. Their camel caravan on the southern Silk Road encountered the deadly singing sands of the Taklamakan and Gobi deserts. In Sumatra, where Polo was stranded waiting for trade winds, they lived with the Mentawai tribes, whose culture has remained unchanged since the Bronze Age. They became among the first Americans granted visas to enter Iran, where Polo fulfilled an important mission for Kublai Khan.

Accompanied by 200 stunning full-color photographs, the text provides a fascinating account of the lands and peoples the two hardy adventurers encountered during their perilous journey. The authors' experiences are remarkably similar to descriptions from Polo's account of his own travels and life. Laden with adventure, humor, diplomacy, history, and art, this book is compelling proof that travel is the enemy of bigotry—a truth that resonates from Marco Polo's time to our own.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780742556836
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date: 12/15/2008
Pages: 288
Product dimensions: 8.50(w) x 10.60(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range: 15 - 18 Years

About the Author

Denis Belliveau's award-winning photographic career has taken him to over sixty countries. He is director of photography and senior cameraman for the award-winning PBS series Real Moms, Real Stories, Real Savvy. Francis O'Donnell is a freelance sculptor and lecturer.

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In the Footsteps of Marco Polo: A Companion to the Public Television Film 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
itbgc on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is an incredible book, which is well-written and filled with beautiful photography. Denis Belliveau and Francis O'Donnell traveled along the route of Marco Polo and shared stories of their adventures, dangers, discoveries, frustrations, and joys as they made their arduous, 25,000-mile journey from Venice to the Holy Land, Turkey, Persia, Afghanistan, Balkh, Tajikistan, China, Tibet, Xanadu, Lesser India, Mongolia, Hong Kong, Sumatra, Ceylon, India, Iran, and back to Venice. The authors described each place they visited as they saw it, especially focusing on the people and their daily lives, and they also included quotes from Marco Polo's accounts of each place sprinkled with just the right amount of history. The style of writing was quite friendly and often humorous. This is a book that is hard to put down, and the photography is absolutely amazing. Enjoy!
ForeWordmag on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Consider the indignities suffered by Marco Polo: a member of a wealthy family of Venetian traders in fabrics and spices, he traveled the winding Silk Road from the Mediterranean port of Ayas in Lesser Armenia through Iraq, Persia, Afghanistan, Turkestan, and Tibet all the way to the poet-sung Xanadu of Kublai Khan, Mongol emperor of the Celestial Kingdom. Yet when Polo finally returned to Venice and told of the cities inhabited by millions of souls (at a time when the most populous European city could boast of no more than 200,000 residents), the Chinese granaries filled with millions of bushels of grain, of millions of bolts of precious silk, millions of gems¿he was mocked. ¿Marco Milione,¿ he was scornfully called.Imagine how gratified he would be to learn that two American adventurers have retraced his path across the largest landmass on earth, using his book, A Description of the World, as their guide and illuminating text. To their astonishment, his descriptions of places and races of people, and their customs, were proved true at every turn.In the Footsteps of Marco Polo, an extraordinary travel book put together by photographer and cameraman Denis Belliveau and lecturer Francis O¿Donnell, documents a fascinating journey that already has provided the material for a public television series. The book tells of how the impetuous young authors embark on an arduous, almost unbelievably dangerous, trek through several war zones, traipsing through fields of land mines, forging travel visas, bribing officials, crossing deserts and the frozen valleys of the Pamir Mountains. They depend on the kindness of strangers. They are fed and given shelter by people who can barely feed themselves. Fast friends since art school, the authors share a brotherly bond that is tested by hardship. More than once their frustration and stress lead to fisticuffs. On one occasion they grapple, kick, and punch each other in the lobby of a four-star hotel. In the end, however, their love for each other is strengthened by the trials they undergo.This youthful exuberance and optimism at times, unfortunately, verges on the puerile: they leer at beautiful girls and speculate at what may be hidden by veil and burka. In Tibet, as if in some dream-like, languid male fantasy, they are seduced and bedded by two comely women whose husbands are conveniently away. Younger readers will often find them reminiscent of those San Dimas surfers, Bill and Ted of the Excellent Adventure fill-in-name-of-country series of movies¿the older set will be reminded of some hackneyed Hollywood ¿Road to¿¿ film. Nevertheless, this is a book well worth reading, filled as it is with adventurous stories and wonderful photographs taken by Belliveau. Most striking is the unselfish nature of the people the authors meet on their way. Were it not for those who fed them or warmed with their kindness and ever-ready cups of hot chai, they would never had made it to Iran, let alone China. The book is a touching record of the beauty and charity of the human spirit, a charity undeterred by want, hunger, war, and grief. by Arturo Mantecón
Ella_Jill on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book was written by two American adventurers who repeated Marco Polo¿s journey in 1993, 700 years after the famed explorer, and were actually the first ones to do so ¿ and no wonder. They crossed 20 Asian countries by camel, horse, bus, car, and sometimes by sea, through high mountain passes, deserts, jungle, and civil wars. It took them 2 years, starting from Venice and returning there, as Marco Polo had done. It¿s an interesting book which describes places few other writers visit, and it¿s beautifully published and illustrated. Quotes from Marco Polo¿s book appear in this book, and it¿s amazing how accurate his descriptions often still are and how little many of the places he had passed through have changed.
SabuST More than 1 year ago
A truly inspiring adventure