THE ARAB MARCO POLO: Ibn Battuta by Lucile McDonald


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In many ways Moroccan traveler Ibn Battuta outshone his less sophisticated European predecessor Marco Polo. This adaptation of his memoirs, hitherto available in a scholarly translation by H. A. Gibb, still won't supersede Polo's Travels in popularity--neither Battuta himself nor the adapter's style have that much charm--but it does give the more adventurous reader a window on the exotic court life of the 14th century Orient. Born in Tangier, Battuta left home on a pilgrimage to Mecca at age 21 and traveled extensively in the Near East, Turkey, Central Asia and India before reaching China. Battuta saw his share of wonders, including the black rocks that bum which so fascinated Polo, and had many close calls on the road (he was kidnapped by robbers and left wandering alone until rescued by a Moslem holy man). But he found China disgustingly barbarian (indeed any country where women were seen in public or Moslem law otherwise transgressed earned his scorn). And most of his account centers on the dazzling luxuries of the royal courts, and on the riches he, as a respected Moslem scholar, was able to amass. A true fairy tale for anyone willing to take the plunge into unfamiliar territory.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1975
Page count: 160pp
Publisher: Nelson