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Publisher's Summary

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 economic chaos. The great ships were left to rot at their moorings and the records of their journeys were destroyed. Lost in China's long, self-imposed isolation that followed was the knowledge that Chinese ships had reached America 70 years before Columbus and had circumnavigated the globe a century before Magellan. Also concealed was how the Chinese colonized America before the Europeans and transplanted in America and other countries the principal economic crops that have fed and clothed the world.

Unveiling incontrovertible evidence of these astonishing voyages, 1421 rewrites our understanding of history. Our knowledge of world exploration as it has been commonly accepted for centuries must now be reconceived due to this landmark work of historical investigation.

©2002 Gavin Menzies (P)2014 HarperCollinsPublishers

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Rational Explanations for Historical Mysteries

After a great celebration for the completion of the Forbidden City, the Ming Emperor Tzu Di sends out a great armada to return dignitaries to their home countries and gives the order that the fleets of Junks continue onward in exploration and charting.
Where did they go? What much did they document? A great amount was destroyed by a later Emperor, but clues remain behind. Gavin Menzies made it his life's work after retiring from the British Navy to find out.
"The Year China Discovered America" is a nice tease. The book is much more than that. The list of discoveries and technologies are staggering.
I also bought the paperback version of the book to see the illustrations and ancient maps detailed in the narrative.
Also, I would give more stars to the narrator if that were possible. Mr. Vance has tremendous skills in switching effortlessly between Chinese, Latin, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese pronunciations. If it weren't for the audio version, I may have gotten bogged down with all of the unfamiliar names and places if I were reading it. Remember, I bought the paper book for the pictures.

10 of 16 people found this review helpful

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An argument for Chinese extended exploration.

I bought the book to instruct myself on ancient China. The opening chapters did this. As the book lengthened, I discovered it was more and more an argument that the Chinese Treasure Fleet extended their influence beyond the confines of the Indian Ocean. Interesting and scholarly, to be sure, but missing my objective by a wide margin. That being said, there was information of value. I'm on the fence as to whether in retrospect the book was worth it.

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Fascinating history woven in an interesting story

Fascinating history woven in an interesting narrative. I found the story and evidence worth learning about. The way the author lays out the evidence is a mix of story telling with sharing historical proofs.

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Will change your view of the New World.

the last third (1/3) of the book is where the meat is! the eye opening Revelations occur there.

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  • Richard
  • Milwaukee, WI, United States
  • 11-24-16

Short on Evidence

Speculation and circular arguments do not make a convincing case. Spectacular narration could not save factual nonsense.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Too dry for me

I tried this book but found I was constantly zoning out, it just was not captivating enough for me.

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world history must

this book is full of interesting information about china's place in the world in the 15th century. the author goes to great length to put the information in context and also to present alternate theories along with why he feels his theories are more likely. a must listen for anyone interested in any facet of world history.

2 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Amazingly well researched

Would you consider the audio edition of 1421 to be better than the print version?

Don't know, but probably yes.Hearing the naming repeatedly makes them easier to remember.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

Columbus must have had a great PR department.

Any additional comments?

It makes you think, and it makes you wonder how much of history that is "known", really isn't know at all. He often mentions that "truth is sometimes stranger than fiction", and he makes a compelling point.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Wow wow wow! Great book for lovers of history!

People even remotely interested in history and origins will love this book. The peoples of the world of been mixing for so much longer than we ever knew. What a fantastic book.

1 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Very interesting book

Very interesting book with lots of eye openers and theories that are very well researched and put together, I am impressed with the facts discovered and proven by this book. I enjoyed the book and wish more can be produced to prove other theories.

1 of 5 people found this review helpful