fighting the lack of good ideas

1421 by gavin menzies

I enjoy histories – especially when delivered in the format that Gavin Menzies employed in “1421 – The Year China Discovered America”.

The only other history I have read in the past 5 years I can recall reading so fast was Gideon’s Spies.

Gavin makes a compelling presentation, interpretation, application, and conclusion of a host of evidence that seems to indicate that the title is what really happened ~600 years ago, and that it was due to a freak storm and fire in The Forbidden City that the records of the great expedition were destroyed by the emperor’s counterparts in society, the mandarins.

Mr Menzies spent his career as a submariner in the British Navy – a fact which comes up several times during the book, and helps to explain many of the connections he was able to draw when reviewing the historical maps, journals, reports, etc.

1421 is a veritable cornucopia of names and places – European and Chinese explorers, exotic locales (many of which are referenced by the names the various countries used for them), foreign potentates, trade routes, etc. It might behoove one to keep notes when reading this book – or at the very least get used to flipping back and forth to keep track of everyone’s names 🙂

When I bought 1421, I also bought Mr Menzies’ second book, “1434 – The Year a Magnificent Chinese Fleet Sailed to Italy and Ignited the Renaissance”. I can’t wait to read that one to see where his research has led.

  • Quality of writing: 5/5
  • Quality of content: at least 4/5
  • Entertainment value: 4/5
  • Plausibility: 5/5
  • Historicity: likely 5/5
  • Overall: 4.5/5