Books: First After Marco Polo

THE GRAND PEREGRINATION (313 pp.) —Maurice Collis—Macmillan ($4.50).

In 16th Century Portugal, the stock advice to give an ambitious young man was "Go East." The East meant silks and spices, porcelain and pearls, the fabulous fast & loose traffic with India, China and the Indies. After a single voyage, men sometimes retired for life.

One young man who felt the lure was Fernão Mendes Pinto, son of a down-at-heel nobleman. He resolved to join the army and, once in the East, switch to trading. In 1537, at the age of 28, he sailed for Goa, Portugal's main outpost in India. Before he saw...

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