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Khubilai Khan's Lost Fleet: In Search of a Legendary Armada Hardcover – April 13, 2009

4.2 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“Engaging and highly readable . . .Delgado writes with an attractively direct style. . . . This trim volume, covering only a small part of a vast subject, is . . . a valuable addition to the shelves.”
(The Guardian 2009-03-28)

“Splendor galore . . . This consistently interesting, well-organized book addresses more than its title suggests. [It] will appeal to anyone interested in modern underwater archaeology or Asian, maritime, and military history-who, after all, isn't amazed that Khubilai's second fleet was the largest ever assembled until Operation Overlord some 650 years later?”
(Foreword Magazine 2009-09-01)

“[Delgado] writes so well, on such a human level. He makes history come alive.”
(Huffington Post 2011-04-20)

“This is a well-written and valuable book exploring an area of scholarship that is still in its infancy in Asia.”
(China Review International 2012-07-25)

From the Inside Flap

“James Delgado is one of the world's preeminent marine archaeolgists; he's also a terrific writer, and Khubilai Khan's Lost Fleet is a fascinating adventure tale packed with insights into a maritime empire about which most Westerners know almost nothing.”—Nathaniel Philbrick, author of In the Heart of the Sea

“The attempts by Khubilai Khan to invade Japan with his all-conquering Mongol armies were instrumental in forging Japan's national consciousness, yet the precise details of the operations have for centuries remained a mystery. Through brilliant and painstaking research James Delgado has brought Khubilai Khan's lost fleet to the surface, showing for the first time the true nature of the doomed adventure.”—Stephen Turnbull, author of The Samurai Sourcebook

“This is two stories in one: how the armada sent by Khubilai Khan to invade Japan in 1281—the greatest fleet in history before D-Day—was churned to bits by a typhoon and how some of those bits are being retrieved in one of the greatest feats of modern marine archaeology. James Delgado has been at the heart of this project. He ranges widely, showing how the past and present illuminate each other. (To the Japanese, the typhoon was the original kamikaze, the 'divine wind' after which their World War II suicide bombers were named.) Objectivity is matched with personal involvement, scholarship with narrative skill. This is history at its best: rigorous, original, and vivid.”—John Man, author of Kublai Khan and The Terra Cotta Army

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; First Edition edition (April 13, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520259769
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520259768
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,715,429 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
An excellent book that uses the topic of Khubilai Khan's legendary armada to shed light on the history of Asia before the 13th century. As a marine archaeologist, Delgado worked with the team who unearthed real evidence of the Khan's navy still buried off the coasts of Japan. To help readers understand his findings, he provides concise but a highly readable account of Asian history leading up to the invasion of Japan in 13th century. He also advances an alternate theory of why the invasion failed; although at this point there seems to be insufficient archaeological evidence to know for sure. My only disappointment was that the book was too short and didn't go into sufficient detail. Supposedly the largest naval invasion force in history (before D-Day), Khubilai Khan's lost fleet is one of the extraordinary events that shaped world history, whose secrets are yet to be fully revealed.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Well written, engaging and thoroughly well researched. It's accessible for those with even a limited interest in what did happen to those failed Mongol/Chinese attempts to invade Japan. The possible reasons put forward are carefully considered. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and recommend it to all.
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Format: Hardcover
When Mongol leader, Khubilai Khan, achieved what his Grandfather Genghis had failed to do in conquering China, he inherited the world's largest and most sophisticated navy. However, in attempting to utilise this to expand his empire further to Java, Vietnam and mainly Japan, he lost the entire armada in a few short years. New marine archeological evidence from Japan, ironically with the site discovered in the 1990s in the construction of new defences from the weather, has raised questions on the traditional view that the defeat of the two Japanese invasion forces of 1274 and particlularly 1281were solely due to the intervention of the weather and what Japanese culture claim was a Kamikaze (or divine wind) summoned by the Gods.

James Delgado's interest in this story was stimulated when he presented a series for National Geographic Independent Television's `'The Sea Hunters'` series. In many ways, it his eye for a journalistic-style story that helps him tell this fascinating history without getting too bogged down in the intricacies of complex maritime archeology or naval history.

I confess my knowledge of archeology goes little further than Indiana Jones and Lara Croft. But you sense that Delgado is aware of the effects of too much jargon and the complexities of archeology and naval terms, and what he tells is a gripping and highly readable account of history and its long term cultural implications.

In less able hands, this book could easily have failed. His scope is huge - a history of Chinese boat building, the Mongol expansion, 13th century Japan, the re-use of the Kamikaze term in World War 2, the Mongol expeditions to Japan and then Vietnam and Java, as well as the discovery of the `'smoking gun'` evidence for the Japanese battle in the late 1990s.
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