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1421 : The Year China Discovered America
1421 The Year China Discovered America
Author: Gavin Menzies
On March 8, 1421, the largest fleet the world had ever seen set sail from China. Its mission was "to proceed all the way to the ends of the earth to collect tribute from the barbarians beyond the seas" and unite the whole world in Confucian harmony.When it returned in October 1423, the emperor had fallen, leaving China in political and...  more »
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ISBN-13: 9780060540944
ISBN-10: 006054094X
Publication Date: 1/1/2004
Pages: 656
  • Currently 3.3/5 Stars.

3.3 stars, based on 38 ratings
Publisher: Perennial
Book Type: Paperback
Other Versions: Hardcover
Reviews: Member | Amazon | Write a Review

Top Member Book Reviews

reviewed 1421 : The Year China Discovered America on + 15 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 5
An interesting notin and book. Some of the author's assertations are unsupported, and absolutely no conflicting evidence is given in the book. But the research into the early use of nautical charts and the ability to find very small bits of evidence in old manuscripts and charts is astounding. You will likely come to the conclusion that China did in fact get do some of the things in the book earlier than the Europeans, only to be lost in the tides of history.
reviewed 1421 : The Year China Discovered America on + 84 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
This book is terrible. It is not scientific in any way. A scientific study is falsificationist, whereas this book is completely verificationist. Menzies starts out with the idea that he is correct and only presents tidbits that might corroborate his version of events. I have read every book on maritime history and exploration that I can get my hands on, and this was one of the most disappointing ever. For a more accurate and less biased version of the history of the Chinese treasure fleet, read Louise Levathes book When China Ruled the Seas. It is not written in a flowery style, but it is trustworthy and well-researched.
reviewed 1421 : The Year China Discovered America on
Helpful Score: 3
This is one of the most interesting andimportant book I've read. It it reveals a history I wish I had available seventy years ago in high school!! The comparisons of the fleets of China and England in 1421 are staggering to one brought up on traditional 'western civilization' history. Th size of the vessels, crews and worldwide trips have nothing like it in world history based on the episodes of Dutch, English, Moorish, Portuguese, Spanish capabilities on the oceans.

It'll be a while before this is re-listed on PBS as I want to read it again and share with others. For me this spoke of a history I must have intuitively known for I've always felt that the 'Columbus discovery of America' was not what it was claimed to be.
precycle avatar reviewed 1421 : The Year China Discovered America on + 87 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
great book! not fiction. very interesting with facts to back up. Written by a retired submarine captain who knows what he is talking about. Definitely a learning experience and I highly recommend it. however, I am keeping this for my personal library so if you want it, you will have to put it on your wish list like I did.!
reviewed 1421 : The Year China Discovered America on + 20 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Thesis; chineses descendants of sailors and their concubines who been part of one of the greatest treasure fleets that sailed the worlds oceans.
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LibraryEm42 avatar reviewed 1421 : The Year China Discovered America on + 26 more book reviews
My main thought while reading this book for the first time was, "I want the adventure novel right now." Because the tale of the Chinese fleet splitting up to explore the whole world, including the Antarctic, would make a great novel or movie.

The scholarship is another story. Now, there are plenty of good pieces of evidence presented in this book. I'm just not sure they're as definitive as the author presents, think he took a few too many leaps from Point A to Point K without making sure all the dots in between connected. Quite a few of his pieces of evidence are essentially described as "possible Chinese junks/artifacts/etc., pending excavation." If we haven't looked at it properly yet, it's suggestive, but not nearly as strong a piece of evidence as we'd wish.

There are several instance where he doesn't give enough information about a particular bit of evidence he presents for readers to be able to evaluate it. I'll give some examples:

- The Vinland Map has been tested and debated over for decades in an attempt to authenticate it or prove it a forgery. Menzies mentions the debate, mentions that one point in contention was the presence of anatase in the ink (not usually found until the 1920s), and then says that someone found some anatase in another definitely authentic medieval map, so that argument can be dismissed. In fact, the anatase issue is much more complicated than that, let alone the other questions about the map he doesn't even mention. He doesn't give the reader enough of a summary of the issues to evaluate the arguments of either side, or even know that there are as many questions as actually exist. He makes it look disingenuously simple.

- He mentions that some other studies found that two villages in Peru and the Navajo elders about a century ago understood Chinese. He does not say which dialect of Chinese, which would be an important point - many are mutually unintelligible. He also does not attempt to explain how it is that language populations separated for five centuries and surrounded by other language groups would somehow remain mutually intelligible. (I'm not saying it's impossible, but it's a major issue that needs to be addressed.) He doesn't even say whether the original studies he's citing addressed these issues.

And so forth. It's certainly suggestive, and Menzies's thesis may turn out to be essentially correct, but I'd want a lot more examinations of the evidence before accepting most of it.
skydigger avatar reviewed 1421 : The Year China Discovered America on
This book will change how you look at European exploration and at how advanced some civilizations in the past were. Every chapter left me wondering what other piece of information I'd been taught would be flying out the window. If history is your thing, you've got to read this.
reviewed 1421 : The Year China Discovered America on + 13 more book reviews
Interesting theories but not really backed up by hard science.