Synopses & Reviews
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 seventy 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.
"No matter what you think of Menzies's theories, his enthusiasm is infectious." Christian Science Monitor
"Captivating...a historical detective story...that adds to our knowledge of the world, past and present." Daily News
"What you've done, brilliantly, is to raise many questions that people are debating." Diane Rehm, The Diane Rehm Show
"...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." Geoffrey Moorhouse, The Guardian
"Menzies' enthusiasm is infectious and his energy boundless. He has raised important questions and marshaled some fascinating information." Toronto Globe and Mail
"[M]akes history sound like pure fun...a seductive read." New York Times Magazine
"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." Publishers Weekly
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.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 493-536) and index.
About the Author
Gavin Menzies was born in 1937 and lived in China for two years before the Second World War. He joined the Royal Navy in 1953 and served in submarines from 1959 to 1970. As a junior officer he sailed the world in the wakes of Columbus, Dias, Cabral and Vasco da Gama. While in command of HMS Rorqual (1968–1970), he sailed the routes pioneered by Magellan and Captain Cook. Since leaving the Royal Navy, he has returned to China and the Far East many times, and in the course of researching 1421 he has visited 120 countries, more than 900 museums and libraries, and every major sea port of the late Middle Ages. Menzies is married, has two daughters and lives in North London.