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First off, I will start off by saying that I do NOT believe the Chinese beat the Europeans to the New World I just think the evidence just is not compelling enough However that doesn t mean that they could NOT have They certainly had the navy, the navigational skills no worse than the Europeans , and the funding and ingenuity to accomplish it And that is precisely what this book seeks to theorize Of course there is not any historian that wants to make any money theorizing unless you are First off, I will start off by saying that I do NOT believe the Chinese beat the Europeans to the New World I just think the evidence just is not compelling enough However that doesn t mean that they could NOT have They certainly had the navy, the navigational skills no worse than the Europeans , and the funding and ingenuity to accomplish it And that is precisely what this book seeks to theorize Of course there is not any historian that wants to make any money theorizing unless you are stictly in the academic community In which case you then are not making any money But I digress Gavin Menzies has decided to theorize that the Chinese could and did in fact do exactly what the title promises He makes a compelling case and this book is very readible to the amateur history buff Which is why it gets 4 stars You will read and really think that maybe the textbooks have been wrong the whole time But like any good, compelling history, the reader should now get enough information and go find out for themselves what is really believable Especially with a theory like this one that would literally turn history on its head And after doing some further reading, you realize that Mr Menzies simply does not have enough solid data to support this claim But the book is well written and he makes a compelling case Just not a slam dunk nor anything close But fun to think about nonetheless You might have that certain relative in your family who is affable enough, but has some really weird ideas that he loves to go on about For the sake of this review, let s call him Uncle Gavin Uncle Gavin is harmless, and charms your friends, but he has one pet topic that you try to steer him away from Before you know it, he s started asking your friends who they think discovered the world and after a short time, the friend s nods and smiles go from sincerely interested to polite to barely h You might have that certain relative in your family who is affable enough, but has some really weird ideas that he loves to go on about For the sake of this review, let s call him Uncle Gavin Uncle Gavin is harmless, and charms your friends, but he has one pet topic that you try to steer him away from Before you know it, he s started asking your friends who they think discovered the world and after a short time, the friend s nods and smiles go from sincerely interested to polite to barely hanging on, and they re looking around desperately for someone to rescue them from this conversation.Uncle Gavin wrote this book His premise sounds interesting, and perhaps sane, if far fetched he claims that the Chinese sailed essentially the entire world in 1421 23 and made maps of such voyages that were later used to guide the Portuguese and Spanish explorers who discovered America and other parts of the world Why this has been a hidden fact for so long the Chinese burned nearly every record of the voyages, stopped exploration, and basically forgot about the whole thing over the centuries Why Uncle Gavin is the only person to have figured this out he used to captain submarines and therefore knows how ocean currents work and can read a nautical chart I ll let that sink in for a moment.In any case, I was willing to go along with him at first, but it became apparent pretty quickly that things were spiraling out of control I rarely make notes on audio books, but I found myself frantically scribbling things down when I was listening to this one Things like Just because Verrazzano compared some lighter skinned Indians and their manner of dress to the Eastern style doesn t mean that they are descended from his Menzies imaginary pregnant concubines that were put ashore from his imaginary overcrowded voyages I was going to list , but as I look at that one, I think it sums up everything Look, it s an interesting idea that the Chinese could have sent an enormous fleet out to see what there was out there, and that they could have drawn up a map of everything, and then decided to close their borders and give up on the outside world, and that the maps could have ended up in the hands of the European explorers, and that those explorers could have found knick knacks that were Chinese and people who might have been descended from Chinese people who ended up there long term one way or another But if you re going to tell me, Uncle Gavin, that the Chinese took out 40 or 50 ships which were wrecked in various places and stayed and lived there, you re going to have to come up with some physical evidence Wrecked ships off India, or eastern Africa, or Australia simply do not prove that Chinese people built the Bimini Road in the Caribbean to get their ships on land for repairs or had a settlement on Greenland I am not kidding I wish I were kiddingIf this were half as long and half as crazy, it might be worth a perusal As it is, run from this book Read Foucault s Pendulum, which features the same sort of wild connect the dots game and also has going for it that it is fiction.PS It turns out that Menzies has also published 1434 The Year a Magnificent Chinese Fleet Sailed to Italy and Ignited the Renaissance I imagine that he is now deep into the writing of 1468 The Year China Traveled to the Moon and Discovered Life and 1498 The Year China Invented Synthetic Life and Created the Spice Girls Sure 1421 has plenty of hearsay and conjecture, and some entertaining theories put forth by Menzies, most of which can t be backed up with factual evidence at this time Obviously by reading the subtitle The Year China Discovered America you get the gist that Menzies asserts a China first to the Americas hypothesis China was on the forefront of invention once upon a time Gunpowder is one example But shifting firmly entrenched belief that old European explorers were first to the Americas ta Sure 1421 has plenty of hearsay and conjecture, and some entertaining theories put forth by Menzies, most of which can t be backed up with factual evidence at this time Obviously by reading the subtitle The Year China Discovered America you get the gist that Menzies asserts a China first to the Americas hypothesis China was on the forefront of invention once upon a time Gunpowder is one example But shifting firmly entrenched belief that old European explorers were first to the Americas takes some imaginative thinking We know that the impressive China fleet of the 1400s sailed to the Middle East and Africa, but did they turn around and hit up the Americas at some point Certainly the natives Inuit all the way down to South America have a certain Asian look to them, but the Bering Strait land bridge theory already covers that There s just not enough evidence to prove otherwise.I don t care who gets credit in the history books for discovering this, that or the other thing I would like to see us humans get it right though, and unfortunately Menzies can t prove his theories Aside from that though, his book is an intriguing good read filled with fun ideas and adventure Hoo boy, what can I say This book is heavily mired in controversy, and here s why First, it makes an extraordinary claim that Chinese explorers in their 1421 23 exploration didn t just map the Indian Ocean, as generally accepted, but also visited West Africa, both coasts of South America, the Caribbean, and even left colonies in New England and Greenland Second, since much of this hasn t been sufficiently researched, it doesn t have the goods to back a lot of it up All it has is an extremel Hoo boy, what can I say This book is heavily mired in controversy, and here s why First, it makes an extraordinary claim that Chinese explorers in their 1421 23 exploration didn t just map the Indian Ocean, as generally accepted, but also visited West Africa, both coasts of South America, the Caribbean, and even left colonies in New England and Greenland Second, since much of this hasn t been sufficiently researched, it doesn t have the goods to back a lot of it up All it has is an extremely interesting hodge podge of facts, figures, intriguing maps, unexplored wrecks and spotty journal entries most of the accounts of the voyage were destroyed when the explorers returned home to find that the Empire had turned inwards.It reads like an historical mystery novel, which is sort of what it is For something that may be a completely fake history, it s sure entertaining It certainly has some questions that the standard model does not answer incredibly accurate maps that appear to predate the discovery of their contents by people who knew how to make maps sunken wrecks where and when there shouldn t be evidence of Chinese Mayan trade and cultural exchange anecdotal accounts of a Chinese colony in Greenland etc Menzies, being an ex sailor himself, knows a lot about sailing and brings the voyage to life, an impressive feat given that we know virtually nothing about anyone who was on it He just doesn t succeed in bringing it to reality Too little is known, much rests on conjecture and indeed many of Menzies theories have been debunked since it was written My own environmental studies professor at Grinnell College pretty much discredited the whole Caribbean argument Several other pieces of evidence have been shot down as well, from all I ve read, and many of the maps and wrecks are not what they seem Some, like an astounding map of Greenland that turned up in the back of someone s car, may even be forgeries.But that, I think, is the point This book is not designed to prove that this voyage really did all that he thinks it did It is a theory There is a lot of scattered evidence for the theory, and it needs to be investigated, because if it were true it would be stunning The book is basically an opening salvo in an argument that is complex enough that it will likely take years to sort out A lot of ships have be dug up from the ocean floor, for starters Most or all of that argument may prove to be bunk, but that s the nature of history.Point is, read this for fun, read for curiosity, but read with a skeptical eye, is all I have to say that I enjoyed reading this book, if only because it made me so angry at the gross inaccuracies and completely imaginary scenarios that the author made up He claims to have information from anthropology, archaeology, geology, geography, history, etc, but what he really has exists only in his own mind Read on, intrepid reader, and be amazed as the author sidesteps issues which threatens his ideas, or completely ignores them There is absolutely no traceable path for his research, I have to say that I enjoyed reading this book, if only because it made me so angry at the gross inaccuracies and completely imaginary scenarios that the author made up He claims to have information from anthropology, archaeology, geology, geography, history, etc, but what he really has exists only in his own mind Read on, intrepid reader, and be amazed as the author sidesteps issues which threatens his ideas, or completely ignores them There is absolutely no traceable path for his research, so scholars cannot even see how he came to his conclusions Even better, some of his citations are inaccurately recorded to the point that one wonders if he s even read them He claims in interviews to have been ousted by the scientific establishment in reality, if you read the scientific reviews of his work, scholars simply subjected his work to the same standards to which they subject their own work If the author wishes to play in the big boy sandbox of academia, he should be prepared to get a little dirty Stop whining and do some decent scholarship for a change Actual rating 1 2 star.I like pseudo science and sometimes pseudo history , but I couldn t finish this one In large part that is because it is so poorly written, and so repetitive Menzies informs us six times that he is a retired Royal Navy captain In the first chapter , and Menzies shows such a poor grasp on what good evidence is, that I had to bail.I m with the late Carl Sagan that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence and surely the claim that the Chinese discovered Ame Actual rating 1 2 star.I like pseudo science and sometimes pseudo history , but I couldn t finish this one In large part that is because it is so poorly written, and so repetitive Menzies informs us six times that he is a retired Royal Navy captain In the first chapter , and Menzies shows such a poor grasp on what good evidence is, that I had to bail.I m with the late Carl Sagan that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence and surely the claim that the Chinese discovered America is an extraordinary one , and Menzies doesn t provide anything like extraordinary evidence He does provide a lot of pretty pictures in the insert, which is why I give this one half a star Do you like pseudo history from rank amateurs that draw wild conclusions from scant evidence while discounting, in almost all situations, the simplest explanation in favor of conspiracy theory level conclusions Then this is for you.Just horrid. While this book presents itself as a revelation, it lacks citations or footnotes or much evidence for that matter to support such wild claims I am not some jaded professor who believes in the current historical status quo, but to make such claims without good scholarly follow through just begs for it to be debunked Don t get me wrong, it was an entertaining read, which is why it got 2 stars and not one But ultimately it is a futile book The reason History is a social science is partly becaus While this book presents itself as a revelation, it lacks citations or footnotes or much evidence for that matter to support such wild claims I am not some jaded professor who believes in the current historical status quo, but to make such claims without good scholarly follow through just begs for it to be debunked Don t get me wrong, it was an entertaining read, which is why it got 2 stars and not one But ultimately it is a futile book The reason History is a social science is partly because new evidence and information is peer reviewed If the evidence supports further research or re evaluates long held historical notions, then it is absolutely necessary to do so I don t think there is such a pro Western or anti Chinese conspiracy among modern historians that the terrible truth in this book would be willfully ignored.As there are many examples of historical revisions that were necessary because of new evidence or racism and bigotry in the original historical perspective, I can only guess that Gavin Menzies had reason to believe that his evidence wasn t strong enough In addition, he conflates history for which there is strong evidence with unsupported theories For example, there is plenty of written and physical evidence that the Chinese were trading and sailing to the East African coast But there is no substantiated evidence that they rounded the Cape of Good Hope There is also evidence that the Chinese were well aware of many land masses throughout the South Pacific, but no evidence to support them landing and colonizing Australia or New Zealand Menzies also claims DNA evidence of Chinese intermixing with aboriginal populations around the world We all know that DNA evidence, while not conclusive, would certainly be very strong proof So why isn t this data cited It is well established that the most powerful agent of change when the New World came into contact with the Old World was disease Since there is evidence of Sino European contact during the Roman period, and both populations had enough density to be cauldrons for the same diseases, why didn t supposed Chinese contact with Native Americans or Australian Aboriginals result in devastating plagues This to me is Menzies largest theoretical hole, large enough to sail a treasure ship through.On a much smaller note, the images that are in the book as well as some of Menzies physical evidence are suspiciously inexact Why not display images of the plinths with Chinese characters from Australia and West Africa and the Cape Verde Islands Why not show the Mao Tsu statue found in Australia or the Gympie Pyramid I suspect these are not shown because of the utter dearth of testable data or clear evidence supporting his theories It is unfortunate that his claims are presented so sloppily and amateurishly that they invite such damning criticism.Finally, I acknowledge the possibility of Menzies claims It is well known that History of European Contact with the New World has long been a racist and exclusionary account of the clash of civilizations Only recently in the last 15 years have there been serious attempts to include the perspectives of women, natives and common Europeans If concrete evidence of Chinese contact with the rest of the world is discovered, then History should indeed be revised But until then I will shelve this theory next to the Lost Continent of Muu and Mayan Trips to the Moon From time to time, this reviewer comes across a publication so crackpot that I hardly know where to start in reviewing it here I m happy to see that Gavin Menzies thesis in 1421 The Year China Discovered America, that a Chinese fleet launched in 1421, embarked on a tour around the world, discovering all major points before Europeans and leaving artifacts, has already been generally debunked by numerous sources Perhaps the most substantial is Robert Finlay s review How Not to Re Write World From time to time, this reviewer comes across a publication so crackpot that I hardly know where to start in reviewing it here I m happy to see that Gavin Menzies thesis in 1421 The Year China Discovered America, that a Chinese fleet launched in 1421, embarked on a tour around the world, discovering all major points before Europeans and leaving artifacts, has already been generally debunked by numerous sources Perhaps the most substantial is Robert Finlay s review How Not to Re Write World History Gavin Menzies and the Chinese Discovery of America in the Journal of World History, June 2004, where Finlay shows that there are no lost years in Ming dynasty sailing, and so Menzies book is completely without foundation My fellow reviewers here have also offered some important critiques I would like to offer a perspective from my own individual profession, linguistics Menzies writes, for example Linguistics provide further evidence The people of the Eten and Monsefu villages in the Lambayeque province of Peru can understand Chinese but not each other s patois, despite living only three miles apart Stephen Powers, a nineteenth century inspector employed by the government of California to survey the native population, found linguistic evidence of a Chinese speaking colony in the state The first assertion, on the Peruvian village, is not sourced at all and is either the personal fancy of the author or some minor crank idea The second, however, is cited to an 19th century bit of scholarship evidentally done without appropriate field methods He goes on to claim that Chinese sailors shipwrecked on the East Coast of the United States would have been able to communicate with locals, as these would have included Chinese who had walked over the Bering Strait Chinese walk across to Alaska and across all North America, but end up speaking Middle Chinese, and yet leave no trace of this dialect on neighbouring Native American languages Risible fantasy There s even an assertion that Navajo elders understand Chinese conversation, and an assertion that the Peruvian village name Chanchan must be Chinese because it sounds at least to him like Canton Perhaps the silliest Peruvian connection is between Chinese qipu and Quechua quipu Menzies seemingly doesn t understand that q represents a completely different sound in each language So, I hope that the reader with some training in linguistics can see what kind of arguments are used in the book, and beware accordingly.If I may be permitted one final indulgence, I should like to protest Menzies weird view of Chinese culture He blasts European explorers for committing genocide, claiming that continued Chinese expansion would have led instead to a world of peace and Confucian harmony This is the naive romantic view of the Orient held by a child flipping through National Geographic A man of Menzies age and experience should have realized that all civilizations have it within them to commit do in indigenous peoples the marginalization of Tibetan and Uighur language and culture and the disappearance already of a distinct Manchu people stand as proof that the Chinese are no exception ^Download E-pub ☠ 1421: The Year China Discovered America ⇷ On , 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 unite the whole world in Confucian harmony When it returned in, the emperor had fallen, leaving China in political economic chaos The great ships were left to rot at their moorings Most records of their journeys were destroyed Lost in China s long, self imposed isolation that followed was the knowledge that Chinese ships had reached Americayears before Columbus had circumnavigated the globe a century before Magellan Also concealed was how the Chinese colonized America before the Europeans transplanted in America other countries the principal economic crops that have fed clothed the worldUnveiling incontrovertible evidence of these astonishing voyages,rewrites our understanding of history Our knowledge of world exploration as it s been commonly accepted for centuries must now be reconceived due to this landmark work of historical investigation