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1421: The Year China Discovered America

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

Was Columbus the first to discover America?

This book provides significant evidince that the Chinese indeed discovered the Americas, Australia, and Antarctica between the years of 1421-23. This is, of course, contrary to the popular belief that Cristopher Columbus discovered America in 1492. The author of this bo...
This book provides significant evidince that the Chinese indeed discovered the Americas, Australia, and Antarctica between the years of 1421-23. This is, of course, contrary to the popular belief that Cristopher Columbus discovered America in 1492. The author of this book, Gavin Menzies, had a difficult time finding evidence for this theory because of the destruction of all Chinese records in the late years of Emperor Zhu Di's reign. He does a great job establishing the purpose of the book. That is, to convince the reader that the Chinese did indeed discover and map most of the world between 1421-23. He persuaded me, and I believe that others would have the same reaction.

This book is not a book that someone can just pick up and read for fun. It absolutely changes the reader's image of the time period of discovery. The writing in the book consists of his search for evidence and what he, Gacin Menzies, deduced from what he found. After reading this I would recommend this book to any student wanting to learn more about this period of discovery. It will change any reader's thinking on what they have learned in history classes they have taken.

posted by 2388851 on December 9, 2009

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Most Helpful Critical Review

4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

OK, but what about "America BC"?

This is a good, well organized and provocative book. However, the factual basis and analysis in support of the author's thesis are markedly deficient and at times outright absent.

In reading this, I was immediately compelled to ask why it is that there is, in ...
This is a good, well organized and provocative book. However, the factual basis and analysis in support of the author's thesis are markedly deficient and at times outright absent.

In reading this, I was immediately compelled to ask why it is that there is, in fact, and abundance of evidence that present-day America, for example, was visited and colonized by the ancient Celts, a prehistoric megalithic stone culture, the 6th or 7th century Irish, the Norse, the ancient Portuguese and many others. Anyone who is fascinated by the subject of pre-Columbian cultural diffusion knows these well, especially if like me they live here in New England. Scattered all around New England are ancient stone buildings, unexplained stone beehive structures, stone megalithic constructs, epigrams in stone in ostensibly ancient languages, and on and on. Areas in the Midwest are similarly mysteriously filled with highly-compelling evidence of trans-oceanic travel many hundreds of years before Columbus.

The author of 1421 ignores these entirely in order to make his "discoveries" more dramatic. However, his enthusiasm is laudable and any mass-marketed introduction to the general subject of Pre-Columbian exploration of the Americas is a welcome one, especially for those who, like me, have studied this question and can only but conclude that conventional history and archaeology is tragically wrong in this regard.

But, again, the evidence the author of 1421 provides is scant and not set forth in any appreciable detail whatsoever. In contrast, a rogue Harvard professor, Barry Fell, wrote "America BC" in the 1970's and was instantly branded a quack and accused of being "unscientific" in his inquiry. The book is a startlingly compelling, almost haunting, argument for travel to present-day America many hundreds of years before Columbus, and even long before the birth of Christ. The irony is that if you read Fell's work you will walk away utterly amazed by the extent to which he fleshes out his analysis, utilizes objective evidence, and the meticulous detail with which he reached his conclusions.

Granted, some of Fell's theories were not as strong as others, but Fell's work makes 1421 look like it was written by an undergraduate college student for his senior thesis, by contrast. As to why it has not been republished and re-marketed ever since it was first released 30 years ago, I have utterly no idea.

The success of 1421, in contrast, just goes to show what good marketing of a book combined with an audience's lack of knowledge of a general subject can accomplish. Again, though, menzies is to be applauded for his work and it is a highly approachable book.

I highly suggest that anyone who has read Menzies' 1421 should also read "America BC." And, "Columbus was Last" is a decent primer on the subject, too.

posted by Massattorney on October 25, 2008

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  • Posted October 8, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Not So Good

    This book is very poorly written. The evidence used to support the opinion of Menzies is very poor. I don't recommend to anyone

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 29, 2008

    No proof whatsoever

    This book is 100% imagination at work.<BR/><BR/>No footnotes of worth, no documentations, NO PROOF for any of the many whimsical assumptions made by the author.<BR/><BR/>You have to at least provide a list of sources that provide insight to your interpretation of the facts as you see them. <BR/><BR/>FAIL.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 5, 2011

    AP World History Review: An Interesting theory, not well written

    The book, 1421: The Year China Discovered America, is an interesting theory about the Chinese reaching parts of America almost 75 years before Columbus's famous trek to America in 1492. The idea is very Interesting, and that is why I picked the book up in the first place, but after I started reading, I wished that I hadn't.
    By the time I got past about the first page, everything that I hoped the book would be, went totally wrong. The facts seemed to be a little off, and the writing was terrible. The whole idea was cool, and if it was written by a better writer, it could have and would have been a better book

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 11, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    This book is a joke

    If this was fiction, I would applaud. Alas it is not. This is like claiming that the Da Vinci Code is for real. While there was most certainly a Treasure Fleet, led by a colorful Muslim eunuch Zheng He, the fleet never rounded the Cape of Good Hope. While records of the fleet were destroyed this does not provide grounds to prove that Chinese ships reached the Americas. Menzies has no evidence. He supposes several "WHAT IF...?" questions, and musters physical evidence worthy of your typical Atlantis hunter. To boot, Menzies READS NO CHINESE. I am not quite sure how one does researching in Ming China with no Chinese, but there you go.

    This book is great if you are unconcerned with the truth or history, and just want to read a fun book. This is about as factual as Jules Verne's Sci-Fi classic From the Earth to the Moon.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2004

    historical farce

    The only thing Gavin Menzies has managed to prove is that Amateur History, like Amateur Dentistry, can be a rather undesireable hobby.

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