Throughout history, some books have changed the world. They have transformed the way we see ourselves - and each other. They have inspired debate, dissent, war and revolution. They have enlightened, outraged, provoked and comforted. They have enriched lives - and destroyed them. Now Penguin brings you the works of the great thinkers, pioneers, radicals and visionaries whose ideas shook civilization and helped make us who we are. A profound influence on medieval Europe's view of the wider world, this thirteenth-century account of a Venetian merchant's amazing experiences in the court of the great Mongol leader, Kubilai Khan, remains one of the most fascinating tales of exploration ever written.
Marco Polo was born in 1254, the son of a Venetian Merchant, and made his first visit to China with his father and uncle in 1271. They spent the next 20 years in the service of the Kubilai Khan, travelling throughout the Mongolian empire. They returned home to Venice in 1292 and towards the end of the century, Marco Polo was taken prisoner in Genoa during the Civil War. It was probably while in prison that he met Rustichello of Pisa, a romance writer, with whom he wrote The Travels. He died in 1324, leaving the possessions he had amassed on his travels to be divided by his three daughters.