Synopses & Reviews
On 8 March 1421, the largest fleet the world had ever seen set sail from China. The ships, some nearly five hundred feet long, were under the command of Emperor Zhu Dis loyal eunuch admirals. Their orders were to proceed all the way to the end of the earth.
The voyage would last for two years and by the time the fleet returned, China was beginning its long, self-imposed isolation from the world it had so recently embraced. And so the great ships were left to rot, and the records of their journey destroyed. And with them, the knowledge that the Chinese had circumnavigated the globe a century before Magellan, reached America seventy years before Columbus, and Australia three hundred and fifty years before Cook.
The result of fifteen years research, 1421 is Gavin Menzies enthralling account of this remarkable journey, of his discoveries and persuasive evidence to support them: ancient maps, precise navigational knowledge, astronomy, surviving accounts of Chinese explorers and later European navigators as well as the traces the fleet left behind from sunken remains to votive offerings left by the Chinese sailors wherever they landed, giving thanks to Shao Lin, goddess of the sea.
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 (19681970), 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.