1421: The Year China Discovered America

1421: The Year China Discovered America

4.0 58
by Gavin Menzies

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ISBN-10: 006054094X

ISBN-13: 9780060540944

Pub. Date: 01/06/2004

Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers

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


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.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Harper Perennial
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.30(d)

Table of Contents

List of Maps and Diagrams9
List of Plates11
Chinese Nomenclature14
IImperial China
1The Emperor's Grand Plan43
2A Thunderbolt Strikes73
3The Fleets Set Sail87
IIThe Guiding Stars
4Rounding the Cape109
5The New World143
IIIThe Voyage of Hong Bao
6Voyage to Antarctica and Australia167
IVThe Voyage of Zhou Man
8The Barrier Reef and the Spice Islands215
9The First Colony in the Americas235
10Colonies in Central America255
VThe Voyage of Zhou Wen
11Satan's Island279
12The Treasure Fleet Runs Aground305
13Settlement in North America321
14Expedition to the North Pole341
VIThe Voyage of Yang Qing
15Solving the Riddle361
VIIPortugal Inherits the Crown
16Where the Earth End381
17Colonizing the New World401
18On the Shoulders of Giants419
Epilogue: The Chinese Legacy439
1Chinese Circumnavigation of the World 1421-3: Synopsis of Evidence493
2The Determination of Longitude597

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1421: The Year China Discovered America 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 58 reviews.
Massattorney More than 1 year ago
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.
RLoughran More than 1 year ago
I just bought my third copy of this book. I loaned out the first two and they haven't (and won't) come back. Written by a retired submariner 1421 rewrites the history not only of America, but of world history. High School history was boring and stupid for a reason: it was wrong. Buy this book.

And don't loan it out.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
1421 The Year China Discovered America, by Galvin Menzies, is an account of the lost voyages of the legendary treasure fleet. The book starts off with the rise of the Ming dynasty. It goes on to explain what we already know about the voyages. Then it gets down to business. What the book is really about. The Ming dynasty had a new ruler and the Chinese fleets had brought the foreign dignitaries to Beijing for the dedication. When they brought the dignitaries home, they went on exploratory. It tells of how evidence has been found showing that the Chinese had settled in North America and even been to the Poles. I chose this book because I wanted something new. Since this is new, I was hooked when I saw the title. The time period is in the early fourteen hundreds. The Chinese had the world’s biggest ships with their four hundred foot treasure ships. The Chinese wanted to know what was beyond the horizon and they sent these massive ships to investigate. This book references the rise of the Ming dynasty, the travels of other explorers, and documents. This is important to our study because it may rewrite the exploratory history of the world. Galvin Menzies is a former Royal Navy submarine commander and traced many of the old routes that the famous European explorers took. He has been to a lot of the places that the Chinese left evidence. In researching the book he visited one hundred twenty countries, more than nine hundred museums and libraries, and every major seaport of the late Middle Ages. He’s got a lot of credentials. This book made me realize that the Chinese once had the best navy in the world. Now they have a very pitiful navy but a long time ago they were king of the seas. It made me realize that the Chinese were there before Columbus. They were more advanced than we give them credit for. They were truly the Middle Kingdom. I would give this book five out of five stars. It is very interesting and provides an account of the lost voyages of the Chinese treasure fleet. It shows that just because someone sets up a colony and it stays alive, doesn’t mean that they were first. The Chinese beat Columbus by about seventy years. And Columbus gets a holiday even though he was cruel to the natives when they were kind to him thinking that they were like the Chinese when they came. Kind of unfair, don’t you think?
BdGold More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thought this book was a rather unique book in the fact that a submarine captain (Gavin Menzies) wrote this book based on information that eluded every historian for all these years.

In 1421, the Chinese set out on massive a sea voyage eventually making them the first people to discover the Americas, Antarctica, Greenland, and to circumnavigate the globe.

Before Columbus set off on his journey, he already had in his possession a world map presented to the Pope by a Chinese envoy showing the North and South American, and Antarctican continents. This means some other people had already been there and in this case the Chinese. Therefore, Columbus's claim that he discovered the new world was a false claim. Capt. Menzies provided detailed evidence to argue his case that the Chinese discovered America in 1421, about 100 years before Columbus and he has succeeded.

As I said before, I thought this was a good read and is definitely worth the money. All of these years we have believed that Christopher Columbus was the first to discover the Americas, but now a question pops-up: were we wrong? You can find out along with a lot more details of our sea traveling history in 1421, The Year China Discovered America.
s70fan More than 1 year ago
This book is 100% imagination at work.

No footnotes of worth, no documentations, NO PROOF for any of the many whimsical assumptions made by the author.

You have to at least provide a list of sources that provide insight to your interpretation of the facts as you see them.

18790783 5 months ago
I expected so much more from this book. But all I got was information that is positioned as somehow earth shattering, yet nowhere near. First of all, why does the author think that anyone believes Columbus was the first to get to the Americas? We all know he wasn't, but it's because he came that the rest of us did, because he relayed the message. While it's interesting to read about the Chinese fleet's voyages, they cease to feel terribly important when the Chinese authorities, after very little time, shut everything down and became completely (if not aggressively) isolationist and inward-focused. Beyond that, comparing everything the Chinese did to how much earlier they got there before Columbus or Magellan also suggests that the Chinese were the first do everything they did, which they weren't. But I guess you have to create drama where you can if you want to sell a book. There was also far too many references by the author to himself. It made me feel the book should have been subtitled "How I Came to Research the Chinese Voyages to America," since the author continually made it about how he felt or what he knew about astral navigation. Is this a memoir, or a history? It fell flat on both counts for me.
ambVA More than 1 year ago
Revolutionary theory. This book offers a theory that will force us to reexamine our history.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
AP World History Review 1421: The Year China Discovered America is a book written by Gavin Menzies and it is about the idea that the Chinese discovered America about 70 years earlier than the Europeans. The reason that I chose the book is because it looked interesting especially for people intersected in the exploration of the Americas. I would recommend this book to anybody who wants to learn more about the Chinese, are interested in the exploration and discover of America or just want to learn more about Zheng He, if so, this is a perfect book for you. It not only shows how advanced the Chinese were for their time and how they thought, but also how the Europeans were really not the first people to discover America or circumnavigate the globe. The information was presented well and it was enjoyable to read. The information was presented by a person whom really had a passion for history. The book was a relatively easy read, while it did not pass by extremely quickly, the book was a delight to read, and at no point in the book did I ever find myself bored.
rmb7500 More than 1 year ago
I found this book fascinating. I am not a history or literary expert, however, I feel I learned quite a bit and my attention was held throughout the book. You can judge for yourself the accuracy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Although this book had an intriguing new concpt, I am unsure what is hard fact and what is just an interesting guess. This is a book that claims that a Chinse fleet, lead by Zheng He during the Ming dynasty, reached the Americas decades before Columbus. With lots of evidence and even more explaination, he describes why it could or might be true. Looking at accounts of historical scholars online, they viewed this book as a work of fiction with in the scholar community. This novel presented guesses as a revolutionary rewrite of history, and it seemed to have more of what ifs then of actual evidence. The way this book is written makes it hard to distinguish hard factual history from the author's veiw of history. I would only recommend this book to people who enjoy reading historical fiction or who are interested in a new perspective on history. I would not recommend this to anyone else. While it was an ok read, it was not a page turner. Also while looking at Gavin Menzies' other works, he wrote an novel saying that Alantis was a marine world power before the age of discovery on almost no factual evidence. This but inceased my skepticism. It was an interesting read, but I would fully recommend remaining skeptic to what is fact and what is fiction.
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When i first read the title of the book, many thoughts came into my head. Like how do we know China discovered the Americas first? How did the Europeans get credit for discovering the Americas if China really did find the first? All these questions were answered by reading this book. The author, in my opinion, supported his claim with significant evidence. Pictures of some of his findings were also included showing what he is writing about leaving you with fewer questions of how he got his evidence. The author gives background information about China and the Ming dynasty, giving you an idea of why the events are happening and what their purposes were. With this background information provided, the rest of the book makes more sense. Also, with this background information, you can connect much of the events happening within the Chinese fleets to the events that happened before the Chinese Junks set sail. After i read this book, many of my questions that i had from just reading the title, were answered. Also i have a new interest in ancient China and just how advanced in technology they were.
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tjs83 More than 1 year ago
This book is very poorly written. The evidence used to support the opinion of Menzies is very poor. I don't recommend to anyone
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