William Dalrymple’s award-winning first book: his classic, fiercely intelligent and wonderfully entertaining account of his journey across Marco Polo’s 700-year-old route from Jerusalem to Xanadu, the summer palace of Kubla Khan.
At the age of twenty-two, Dalrymple left his college in Cambridge to travel to the ruins of Kubla Khan’s stately pleasure dome in Xanadu. As he and his companions travel across the width of Asia—crossing through Acre, Aleppo, Tabriz, Tashkurgan, and other mysterious and sometimes hellish places—they encounter dusty, forgotten roads, unexpected hospitality, and difficult challenges. Stylish, witty, and knowledgeable about everything from the dreaded order of Assassins to the hidden origins of the Three Magi, this is travel writing at its best.
“Superb. . . . Marvelous. . . . Rich with the sights, smells, history and feel of Asia. . . . A classic.” –The Sunday Express
“Splendid. . . . Dalrymple is plainly brilliant, bonkers, or both.” —The Times (London)
“The future of travel writing lies in the hands of gifted writers like Dalrymple.” —The Independent (London)
"This is travel writing in the grand tradition, with a true whiff of high adventure. Dalrymple recounts his saga with a fine mixture of humour and erudition, and with the exuberance of youth." —Evening Standard
"Bright, sharp, laconic and outrageous, his is an adventurous account of hippies and mad mullahs, mosques and sacred tombs, dangers and celebrations, Dionysian rituals and rich discoveries. It is full of life and very funny." —Sunday Times
“Dalrymple is probably the best travel writer of his generation.” —The Daily Mail
“Uncommonly satisfying because of the rare skill with which Dalrymple blends his ingredients: history, danger, humour, architecture, people, hardships, politics.” —London Literary Review
“Brilliant.” —The Spectator
“Dalrymple is a phenomenon and his journey a remarkable one. . . . A striking achievement.” —Punch
“A vivid, engaging, often hilarious account of an amazing 12,000-mile quest.” —The Sunday Express
"Outstanding. . . . William Dalrymple is a natural writer. His models are, perhaps, Peter Fleming and Evelyn Waugh rather than more serious travellers, but he's a better scholar than either. Best of all, he has the gift of comedy. . . . In Xanadu marks the arrival of a new star." —Sydney Morning Herald
"A fast, furious, funny read. . . . Clearly the stuff bestsellers are made of." —Times of India
“A delightful book—erudite, adventurous and amusing [with] an exotic itinerary, charming companions, impossible odds, appalling discomfort and bizarre encounters along the way.” —Piers Paul Reed