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Following Marco Polo's Silk Road [Paperback]

Brian Lawrenson , Now replaced with 2nd Edition
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Paperback, 16 Jan 2009 --  

Book Description

16 Jan 2009
Following Marco Polo’s Silk Road is Brian and Jill Lawrenson’s personal account of their adventure-filled journey as they pursue the historical legend and the mythic hero Marco Polo. Beginning in Italy, Marco Polo’s point of origin, they embark on a sometimes light-hearted, sometimes perilous journey along the celebrated Silk Road, named for the series of trade routes used to connect China to the Mediterranean world and North Africa during the 3rd Century and beyond. Along the way, Brian and Jill explore the modern peoples and cultures that have grown up in Marco Polo’s footsteps and uncover the truths vs. the myths of the actual voyages of this famed Italian explorer. Told as part travelogue and part narrative quest, Following Marco Polo’s Silk Road tells an intimate and thrilling tale of wanderlust, human diversity, and the love of pure adventure for adventure’s sake. This book will please travel fans and anyone who loves the romance of history.
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Product details

  • Paperback: 387 pages
  • Publisher: BookSurge Publishing (16 Jan 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439217408
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439217405
  • Product Dimensions: 20.3 x 13 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,419,660 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Brian Lawrenson was born in Yorkshire, brought up in the seaside city of Port Elizabeth, South Africa. After hitch-hiking round UK and Europe in the 1960's, he met and married his New Zealand born wife, Jill, in London and migrated to Australia in 1968. Since then they have travelled to more than 70 countries.

Apart from travels in the Australia, including the Red Centre; they have explored New Zealand; visited the Islands of the Pacific; journeyed through the Middle East, across Central Asia and China; criss-crossed Canada and stayed in the remote Resolute Bay; discovered the beauty of over 20 states of the USA; exploring the Inca trails of South America and cruised round Cape Horn; and visited many of the countries of the Far East including Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia.

In 2010 Brian and his wife started more detailed exploration and travelling in Australia and in late 2011 Brian gave his first Destination Speaker talk on the Radiance of the Seas cruise liner. Since them Brian has become an accomplished cruise speaker. This will lead to an upcoming series of eBooks about various Cruise Destinations.

Brian and Jill live in their favourite city, Sydney.

Brian Lawrenson is a traveller, writer, speaker and the author of Following Marco Polo's Silk Road and now 32 eBooks for people that love to travel.His books are available on Kindle, Nook, Sony, Kobo and iPad readers.

Brian encourages the travellers that have enjoyed his books to contact him and post a review of his writing. This will help other readers choose reading material that they know that they will enjoy.

Product Description

About the Author

Brian Lawrenson was born in Yorkshire, England and at age seven made his first journey of 7,000 miles to South Africa. After hitchhiking around the British Isles and Europe, he and his New Zealand born wife Jill married and migrated to Australia. Since then they have traveled through more than seventy countries. Brian is a Charter President of the Rotary Club of Breakfast Point, and was awarded a Paul Harris Fellow in 2005 by Rotary International for his work in the community. Brian retired, after a career in sales and marketing in computer technology, in 2000. Brian and Jill live in their favorite city—Sydney. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Crossing paths with Marco 15 Mar 2010
By Joseph Haschka HALL OF FAME TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
FOLLOWING MARCO POLO'S SILK ROAD by Brian Lawrenson is a fast-paced travel essay recounting several trips by the author and his wife Jill to the areas of the Middle and Far East described by the 13th century Venetian merchant, Marco Polo, who himself spent 24 years on the road before writing-up his travelogue, Il Milione, with co-author Rustichello da Pisa.

Lawrenson's companionable account is discontinuous in both time and space. The first two-thirds records the 1986 passage the couple made going west to east from Venice to Lukla, Nepal via Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Iran, Pakistan, India and Tibet with a sidebar solo re-visit of Syria and Jordan by Brian in 2007. The last third begins with the pair arriving in Beijing in 2007, and from there traversing China's far western reaches, then south to Islamabad, Pakistan, with another sidebar, the couple's 2005 exploration of Uzbekistan.

The word "following" in the volume's title is perhaps benignly disingenuous. At best, what is presumed to have been Marco Polo's course is intersected by the Lawrensons' path at several points but not strictly followed. However, no matter. The author's descriptive powers serve the reader well and more than make up for any elastic subjectivity regarding the route.

Brian occasionally refers to the keeping of a daily diary, which apparently served as the basis for the narrative reconstruction; the book has that pace, i.e. a testimony of sequential arrivals and departures with local sights briefly touched upon in between.
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Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  10 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars World Citizen Reporting 29 Mar 2009
By K. Coleman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Lawrenson has employed a keen eye and his obvious love for the world's peoples to tell a true story from a lifetime of travels. The author does a fine job of synthesizing and organizing a great deal of information without sensationalizing, and he is not at all condescending. For a self-published labor of love it is very clean and highly readable.

I am ambivalent about the quality of the read itself, perhaps just for stylistic reasons. To me the book has an undesirable "slideshow effect". It is as though he showed one of his thousands of photographs at a time and then gave a few sentences of description and context to each before moving on to the next image. I hoped for broader images and more depth.

For example, on page 373, "He was also an expert in both throat singing and in calligraphy. He called a neighbor over to join him in a rendition of the former art and we all agreed afterwards that it was indeed a remarkable performance." No further description and no indication of the exact quality of the singing that impressed him is given.

Another example follows a few pages later while he is describing an art museum in Uzbekistan, "The collection was absolutely stunning. It was the best collection of art that I have ever seen- and I've seen the art in many of the collections in the world. This view was shared by a number of our group." No specific pieces of art are described, but how the museum came into being is. I hoped to be transported into the gallery and to stare with him at a specific work or two and to learn exactly the way this experience moved him but he was moving on to the next slide already.

I look for more impression and more intimacy in a book so that the imagination might have room to expand. The author's gift, however is other. If one disagrees with my reasons, I think this could be a thoroughly enjoyable read for what the author is quite good at: a whirlwind of factual bits succinctly and humanely organized for discovery's sake.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Intrepid travelers - Understated Adventure 14 Feb 2009
By Loves the View - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book recounts the adventures of Brian and Jill Lawrenson as they visit cities along the Silk Road. They have both luck and pluck as they avoid the bombs in Iran at the time of the Iran Iraq war, and travel through warlord territory of Afghanistan. They fly out of airports where they have to shovel the snow from the runway with pieces of tin and cross rivers in vehicles where the water comes through the floor. Border crossings are their own special moments where they face intimidation and waiting games.

Brian keeps an even tone whether he's watching 16 year olds build bullets in weapons factories or monks in prayer in monasteries or whether he and Jill carry their luggage up a precariously steep mountain because the road has been washed out. They visit Uzbekistan where it is casually mentioned that Osama bin Laden casually visits.

This is a very pleasant book to read. In fact, I'm passing it on to a friend who is immensely curious about the China parts. I know he will enjoy the whole book.

This is a self published volume, and a 5 star within its type. The maps are right where you need them and there is an even quality to the prose. I'm giving it a 4 because this is Amazon where it competes with the big guys. Better production (type, layout, photos or graphics, binding) and editing (it crosses from a guidebook to a narrative with slivers of history). A good editor could bring this to a 5 for any armchair traveler.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It is almost like being there! What a wonderful way to plan your Trip! 1 May 2012
By M E ROSSON - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
Following Marco Polo's Silk Road by Brian Lawrenson is a remarkable travelogue that really helps you to get a taste, flavor and feel like you have really been where he is writing about. You know that Uncle who shows you those 500 slides of South America from the fifties....this is NOT what I am talking about. Mr. Lawrenson captures the sights, sounds, tastes and colors in a way that makes you think you are walking beside him and his wife as they travel. Trains, churches, Mosques, food, shopping and touring seem so natural and having been to some of these places myself, I only wish I had read this book first, before I traveled so that I could experience the real flavor of each Country that I traveled to. If you are planning a trip, check out this series, it is well worth it to prepare yourself to relax and see the wonderful sights. I know I plan to purchase one of these before my next trip to Australia, hoping to not miss the wonderful local flavor.
Note: In Instanbul, the details and mystery of Agatha Chrisie and the room keys had me wanting more, what a great story! Well Done Brian!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Vacation From My Balcony 8 April 2010
By Bobby Underwood - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Vibrant and alive with wonder at the potpourri of magical places and interesting cultures which make up our beautiful world, Brian Lawrenson's account of his travels along Marco Polo's route is a breezy and fun way to vacation from your balcony. By train, camel, and tricycle we are along for the ride as he and his wife Jill find history and adventure from Istanbul to Kathmandu, Damascus to Samarkand, from China to Pakistan. Written in an intimate style, we experience everything along with them, making for a relaxed holiday devoid of the hassles and overflowing with the pleasures. Speculation about Marco Polo and his journey and the colorful history of each place visited and enjoyed are given the reader in an atmosphere as easy as the cafes where plans for the next day were often hatched.

Colorful groups and experienced guides often join in the journey, but mostly it is that sense of excitement at being there which captures the reader. We can see in our mind's eye the sultans and belly dancers when visiting the Pela Palas in Istanbul, and experience a romantic gondola ride along a Venetian canal while discovering the interesting history of the gondoliers. Whether it is the Valley of Tombs or a spot where Lawrence of Arabia once stood matters only slightly, as it is only one tiny adventure among many we get to share with the Lawrensons. In China we can hear the hoofbeats of riders as we gaze upon the Terra Cotta Warriors of ancient times, and in Syria we learn of Queen Zenobia, who once challenged and defied the Roman Empire. Young Syrian girls still wear copies of a coin she had minted with her image as a necklace.

It was fascinating to discover great beauty in places like Pakistan, which is not the first image which comes to the mind of a westerner. Ali and Azeem guided the Lawrensons safely across narrow paths barely roads at all, through a vibrant country still strangely full of British traditions. Exotic foods were sampled and enjoyed at eateries throughout the journey, and it feels as if we are there enjoying them as well. There is a sense of good fortune also; a bomb exploding in a marketplace the couple had just left. From Trieste and the Croation countryside to the making of tea in China it is all enjoyable and fascinating. Americans who enjoy Globe Trekker on PBS will find that same bright sense of enchantment in traveling to these exotic places with the Lawrensons as our guides.

Being American by birth and good fortune, and now living in lovely Australia after marrying there, I found myself wondering whether the shadow we know exists in our day in certain regions of the world would ever find their way in to this breezy travel adventure so full of wonder and history for these places along Polo's journey. A comment offered by a border guard and a quiet conversation Lawrenson had with another man brought me briefly back to earth from the heady journey I'd been on with he and his wife, Jill. Sympathy for anti-American leanings and the fanatical hate of a world criminal booted out of many countries already was palpable, but by no means representative of the majority. It only served to highlight the guilt by association for those who look the other way at evil as it freely and openly walks back and forth across their borders. No doubt those same two people, if they saw a man stab violently another outside their window, would never consider allowing him to move freely in and out of the comfort of their family home. Morality, decency, and a sense of right and wrong inherent in the vast majority of human beings would not allow for such.

It was a brief jolt, coming near the end of the author's journey, only serving to foster in the reader an appreciation for their own beauteous patch of freedom. Perhaps the finest comment I can make about this work is that it doesn't necessarily foster that feeling of regret we sometimes get from travel books. Due in large part to its intimate style and true wonderment which can be felt by the reader, we close this book with the impression of having been these places ourselves. As the couple approach Sydney, we too are grateful for our own spot to rest, yet left wondering how much more there is to experience in our third rock from the sun if we could only manage to do so. In the end, this is an enjoyable and uplifting account of travel I can honestly recommend to anyone who enjoys them.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Travel Read For This Year 30 Jan 2009
By Suzanne Olsson, Author - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Before reading "Marco Polo's Silk Road" last year I had read Colin Thubron's "Shadow of the Silk Road." I have the highest regard for Thubron as a very gifted and descriptive writer. For example when he writes: "A distant disturbance at one end of the road trembled along its length like an electric current....in a relentless chain reaction...." Images of a war in China effecting trade in ancient Rome flash through one's mind in hundreds of suggestive images. Brian Lawrenson has more difficult writing footsteps to follow than Marco Polo's. I could not help comparing the two author's writing approaches. However, I finished reading this book very much impressed by Lawrenson's patient historical fact-finding and weaving in and out of cultures between then and now. Thubron also did this, but in quite disimilar ways.

Lawrenson noted the changes in travel, and changes in himself that age brings, from his first steps over 30 years ago to the culmination of his journey in modern times, when a warm clean hotel room is now available, and indeed preferred over cold nights on damp mountain dirt. But it does not diminish the experiences of new discoveries.

Lawrenson wrote; " The name Karakorum "Highway" is a misnomer. It is thousands of meters of rutted, washed away, washed over, dirt track that connects a meter or so of tarmac, or metal road as they say here. In places it is narrow, sometimes only the width of a single vehicle. We spent a lot of time holding our breadth..."

That's the kind of imagery I loved about this book because those are the very real experiences that still linger in my memory and in my heart. This has been a book of excellent writing. Excellent reading.
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