• 1421

  • The Year China Discovered America
  • By: Gavin Menzies
  • Narrated by: Simon Vance
  • Length: 12 hrs and 59 mins
  • 4.3 out of 5 stars (334 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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 70 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.

©2002 Gavin Menzies (P)2014 HarperCollinsPublishers
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

What listeners say about 1421

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Would have been a good novel...

As a piece of history this book is not credible. Circular reasoning, impossible timelines, lack of evidence, confusion of “hypotheses” with “evidence”.

It might have made a fun novel in the vein of “Da Vinci Code.” Unfortunately it’s masquerading as history.

The narrator is great though!

32 people found this helpful

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Short on Evidence

Speculation and circular arguments do not make a convincing case. Spectacular narration could not save factual nonsense.

21 people found this helpful

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Rational Explanations for Historical Mysteries

After a great celebration for the completion of the Forbidden City, the Ming Emperor Tzu Di sends out a great armada to return dignitaries to their home countries and gives the order that the fleets of Junks continue onward in exploration and charting.
Where did they go? What much did they document? A great amount was destroyed by a later Emperor, but clues remain behind. Gavin Menzies made it his life's work after retiring from the British Navy to find out.
"The Year China Discovered America" is a nice tease. The book is much more than that. The list of discoveries and technologies are staggering.
I also bought the paperback version of the book to see the illustrations and ancient maps detailed in the narrative.
Also, I would give more stars to the narrator if that were possible. Mr. Vance has tremendous skills in switching effortlessly between Chinese, Latin, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese pronunciations. If it weren't for the audio version, I may have gotten bogged down with all of the unfamiliar names and places if I were reading it. Remember, I bought the paper book for the pictures.

17 people found this helpful

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from a Maritime Archaeologist

I find it difficult to rate this book. It is easy to listen to, well narrated, well written, and very intriguing. I certainly learned from this book b/c it covered some subjects I am not an expert in. This led me to do more research.

Most important: do not take anything in this book as gospel. There are many inaccuracies. There are accurate statements as well. The Chinese voyages and characters are real. The "evidence" that they made it to America is beyond circumstantial.

There are 2 certain inaccuracies:
1. experts do not universally believe the Bimini Road is man-made. Quite the opposite. Virtually every reliable "expert" agrees it is natural.
2. the author discusses that the Chinese collected mylodon from South America for the emperor's zoo. Mylodon went extinct approx 10k years ago. Unless I misunderstood the author's statements, this is inaccurate.

Otherwise, the author does not seem to understand basic genetic connections. He claims genetic connections between Native Americans and the Chinese as proof of colonies. However, this could possibly be explained by common ancestry.

There are many claims the author has made which I have not looked further into. I do not want invalidate the entire work from only a few inaccuracies. I can confidently state that much of his "evidence" is circumstantial. None can be taken as fact as he confidently claims inaccuracies as fact.

It is an interesting book which should make you think. Be very skeptical about everything written. While the Chinese COULD have visited the Americas, there is no evidence proving this.

5 people found this helpful

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Fascinating Theory

I thoroughly enjoyed the book 1421 and readily accept significant portions of the book, however there are also many parts of the book that would seem to be pure conjecture - coupling facts and theories that fit his narrative. Clearly the Chinese civilization made some huge accomplishments in areas far sooner than their European counterparts and naval discoveries pertaining to navigation are among them. I found the portions dealing with the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean far more plausible than those proposed in the Atlantic, especially those associated with the North Atlantic. The book really is fascinating and the narration is first rate. I would strongly recommend the book to people who enjoy history and histories mysteries.

4 people found this helpful

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A compelling new way to understand the New World

The author does a fabulous job laying out his evidence for a claim that flies in the face of what every European and American is taught about the Age of Discovery. As it turns out, the famous Spanish and Portuguese explorers seem to have known exactly where they were headed and, in many cases, precisely how to get there. This book is about to whom they were indebted for that knowledge.

While the title and subtitle of a book like this could certainly produce instant skepticism, Mr. Menzies painstakingly brings out a wealth of archaeological, navigational, historical, and DNA evidence to buttress his assertions. For those not familiar with Chinese names, the audiobook can be a little difficult in spots, but the story is gripping and the narration is wonderful. By all means purchase and enjoy this book. I'm looking forward to other titles from this author and other readings by Simon Vance, too.

4 people found this helpful

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Pseudo-history I regret supporting with the purchase

It all sounds compelling until you learn it was ghost-written based on whatever Menzies told the writers, with no fact-checking and flimsy sourcing.

Be sure to read or watch a takedown of this book by a real historian before sharing its ideas as credible at your next social event.

3 people found this helpful

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world history must

this book is full of interesting information about china's place in the world in the 15th century. the author goes to great length to put the information in context and also to present alternate theories along with why he feels his theories are more likely. a must listen for anyone interested in any facet of world history.

3 people found this helpful

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Amazing untold story. Brilliant

Tore thru it. Great read. The author details the most amazing story I've read in a long time.

2 people found this helpful

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Wow wow wow! Great book for lovers of history!

People even remotely interested in history and origins will love this book. The peoples of the world of been mixing for so much longer than we ever knew. What a fantastic book.

2 people found this helpful

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