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In Menzies's 1421, the amateur historian advanced a highly controversial hypothesis, that the Chinese discovered America; in this follow-up, he credits the Renaissance not to classical Greek and Roman ideals (a "Eurocentric view of history") but again to the Chinese. His thesis in both works is based on the seven (historically undisputed) voyages undertaken by a large Chinese sailing fleet between 1405 and 1433; while it is known that they traveled as far as east Africa, Menzies believes that they landed in Italy and sent a delegation to the Council of Venice, held in Florence in 1439. There, they provided the knowledge and technique-introducing the painter Alberti, for instance, to the methods of perspective drawing-that sparked the Renaissance. Menzies sets the stage by recapitulating arguments from his first book, including the ingenious method for calculating longitude that Chinese navigators may have used. Though Menzies writes engagingly, his assumption that the Chinese fleet landed a delegation in Florence is highly speculative, and hardly substantiated by any facts (Alberti could just have easily learned perspective from classical sources; the Greeks knew about the relationship between perception of length and distance in the 1st Century BCE).
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In his earlier book, 1421: The Year China Discovered America (2002), Menzies, a former British Royal Navy submarine commander, asserted that a mighty Chinese fleet commanded by the eunuch Zheng visited North America. The book generated considerable interest and a cult following among laymen, but professional historians in both China and the West largely dismissed his claims. Now Menzies, still the provocateur, insists that a Chinese fleet visited Italy and imparted the wisdom of the highly advanced Chinese civilization, thus sparking the explosion of scientific inquiry and creativity during the Renaissance. As scholarly history, this work is weak. Menzies takes fragmentary evidence and blows it up into “without a doubt” conclusions. Still, as a combination of nautical tall tale and historical speculation, this is a fun book. Menzies knows how to spin a yarn and does so in the manner of a good detective story. This isn’t serious history, but many will find it an enjoyable read. --Jay Freeman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Editorial Reviews
I love the history and documentation. I may have to bite my tongue in history class.Published 29 days ago by Ann Hendon
Must read to fully appreciate the untold history of our world today. Very well researched and east to read a credit to Gavin Menzies.Published 1 month ago by DutchieG
I am using my editor's page to post this. In a way I was inspired on writing my own book trying to trace the origin of Leonardo Da Vinci's mother. Read morePublished 1 month ago by LascarBooks
Second book in the Series. Every interesting. Always learning something.Published 2 months ago by JLD
This was a gift, as far as I know the person was happy with it.Published 3 months ago by Amanda Ivory