Our book last night was Marco Polo: the journey that changed the world by John Man. In the 13th century, people knew virtually nothing about the world outside of their immediate farm or village. At the age of seventeen, Marco Polo left his home for a journey to China with his father and uncle. He would be gone for twenty-four years. His written account of his journey and adventures, co-written with a romance writer he met in prison, would change the world by bringing the far east to the west. But was his account true? Polo was not above embellishing his stories by putting himself at the center of events rather than at the side as an observer. The author of the book made an attempt to follow Marco Polo’s path as closely as possible, trying to learn what Polo had actually seen, done and participated in and what might have been fabricated. No one will ever truly know. But the one thing beyond doubt is that Polo’s journey made the world smaller and changed history. We had a lively conversation covering many things including the history of the Silk Road and modern China’s attempts to reestablish it, the convergence of three religions, Buddhism, Christianity and Islam in Kublai Khan’s Mongolia and China, the different sexual mores between the Mongolians and the Chinese, the influence of Polo on Columbus, the film Citizen Kane, the palace of Xanadu and Coleridge’s poem of the same name and much more.
Our next meeting will be on December 28th, 2017 at 7:00 pm. The book to be discussed, Hero of the Empire: the Boer War, a daring escape and the making of Winston Churchill by Candice Millard, is available at the Circulation Desk. All are welcome. Happy Thanksgiving to all.