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1434: The Year a Magnificent Chinese Fleet Sailed to Italy and Ignited the Renaissance

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 17, 2008

    1434: The Year A Magnificent Chinese Fleet Sailes To Italy And Ignited The Renaissance

    1434 is the contentious sequel to retired submarine commander Gavin Menzie's first book, 1421. In his maiden effort, he proposed that the Chinese discovered America. Here, he says they sparked the Renaissance. Menzies - not a trained historian - says it all began when a large Chinese fleet arrived in Italy in 1434 via Egypt. They brought a treasure trove of knowledge - calendars, maps, encyclopedias and technical drawings - and unlocked the spirit of inquiry. Even the great Italian painter and inventor Leonardo Da Vinci benefited from the Chinese, the author claims. Menzie's writing style is engaging and peppered with stories of his travels. In one instance, he and his wife Marcella go to the French town of Saint Die to find out more about German cartographer Martin Waldseemuller, who drew a globular world map in 1507 showing South America and the Pacific. Menzies points out that Waldseemuller could not have known of those regions before Ferdinand Magellan 'the first European to cross the Pacific' set sail and traces the depictions of the Americas to a globe that the Chinese gave the pope in 1434. While this is an interesting read, the jury is still out on whether Menzies is to be believed. Historians agree that Chinese ideas did make their way to Europe but point out there is no written record of Chinese junks arriving in Italy. Menzies' evidence comes from among other things, a translation of a letter written by Italian mathematician Toscanelli, who claimed to have spoken to a Chinese ambassador who visited Pope Eugenius in 1434. This is just one of Menzies theories that academics have cited as 'far fetched'. But to the casual reader of history, 1434 is an exciting way of revisiting history. It is worth a read, if only to see if you can be convinced.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 22, 2009

    An interesting theory of the renissance.

    An interesting continuation of 1421. A little long in the tooth in some of the explinations. It relys too much on references to the web site for explanations and illustrations. You need to read it with a computer in front of you to get all the detail. COuld have been simplified as to examples and more of the illustrations and explanations ilncluded. An interesting read.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 20, 2009

    Not as good as expected

    I had read 1421 and had enjoyed it and was looking forward to reading this book. While the subject was well researched I found several things that frustrated me about the book. First, the author would talk about a subject and then say for more details to go to his website instead of having an appendix at the end of the book. I had the trade paperback and in the text he kept refering to maps that I could not find in the book. The last thing is that it did not read as well as his first book. It seemed more like a travelogue than a research book.

    The subject is very throught provoking in that he questions the Eurocentric view of history. He has done a lot of research to back up his thesis and his explination of events seems very logical.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 28, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    1434 The Reaissance's birth?

    A very well written piece of history. Mr Menzies has spent countless hours researching and traveling the globe to put this together. Very stimulating if you love history. A must read.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2008

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    Posted July 5, 2009

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    Posted July 28, 2010

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