Terry Simpson, January 1, 2011 (view all comments by Terry Simpson)
There is a great reason this is a NY Times best selling book. Not only does it introduce us to China as it was in 1421 - but gives us a long view of how the country views itself now, and how it continues to move inward after exploration.
A great and easy read - and no doubt turns historians heads
aramaris, April 10, 2008 (view all comments by aramaris)
I can't believe some saying this book is a fraud when it is extremely well documented. Also, anyone with an average education can read this book, including High School students. I found it very easy to read. I have continuously checked many references in the light of other sources and by googling others. Everything checks out. All this is found in other books by famous historians. A master storyteller with lots of knowledge. An exciting book and a must-read for any history buff.
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nigelbruce, December 15, 2006 (view all comments by nigelbruce)
Superfically the book looks as if it might be a serious history: it has the form, a table of contents, quite a few endnotes, etc, however, if you check the sources against the text you will find they rarely support what he has written. They are just window dressing. The book is a fraud.
For a good inventory of the many problems with this book, which should correctly be listed as fiction, see www.1421exposed.com.
If you are interested in learnign the true history of these seven voyages in early 15th century China, start with Ma Huan, Ying-Yai Sheng-Lan, The Overall Survey of the Ocean Shores, Beijing, 1433, translated from the Chinese Text, Edited by Feng Ch'eng-Chun, with introduction, notes and appendices by J.V.G. Mills (Cambridge Univ. Press). Ma Huan was on board for three of the voyages, including the 6th, and his commentaries are a first person account, primary evidence. He writes of nothing beyond the well documented theatre of operations. The volume also contains Mills' lengthy discussion of the Mao K'un, the fleet's sailing instructions. 715 places are identified and located, none beyond the well documented theatre of operations.
Mr. Menzies is an inventive story teller and his tale is just a fantasy, with phoney 'evidence' meant to deceive the uninformed reader.
If you are fond of the historical fiction genre pass on Menzies and get something by Gore Vidal, such as Burr, or Baudolino by Umberto Eco.
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reader, November 1, 2006 (view all comments by reader)
This was a well researched book but if you have to read it during the summer in high school.... you will die. This book was TORTURE i advise any high school students NOT TO READ IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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by Christian Science Monitor,
"No matter what you think of Menzies's theories, his enthusiasm is infectious."
by Daily News,
"Captivating...a historical detective story...that adds to our knowledge of the world, past and present."
by Diane Rehm, The Diane Rehm Show,
"What you've done, brilliantly, is to raise many questions that people are debating."
by Geoffrey Moorhouse, The Guardian,
"...the particular genius of Menzies has been to link most convincingly many bits and pieces of information that have been known by different experts (including the great sinologist Joseph Needham) for a long time but which no one before him has had the wit to put together."
by Toronto Globe and Mail,
"Menzies' enthusiasm is infectious and his energy boundless. He has raised important questions and marshaled some fascinating information."
by New York Times Magazine,
"[M]akes history sound like pure fun...a seductive read."
by Publishers Weekly,
"The amateur historian's lightly footnoted, heavily speculative re-creation of little-known voyages made by Chinese ships in the early 1400s goes far beyond what most experts in and outside of China are willing to assert and will surely set tongues wagging."
Includes bibliographical references (p. 493-536) and index.
Based on 15 years of in-depth research, "1421" traces the voyages of an extraordinary fleet of Chinese ships, whose crews actually charted America 70 years before Columbus. Four 8-page color inserts. 37 maps & diagrams.
Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and eBooks — here at Powells.com.