Apr 2017 - 1421 The Year China Discovered America

Gavin Menzies in 1421 The Year China Discovered America claimed that Admiral Zheng He (Cheng Ho) and his Treasure Ships sailed all over the world between 1421 and 1423. He expends 500+ pages attempting to prove this hypothesis using numerous maps and other ‘evidence’. As a former submarine commander, he claims to have the knowledge and authority to formulate these proofs.  About 50 pages into the book, one begins to encounter gross errors and they continue to multiply as one reads on. One is assured the evidence is overwhelming and that there will be additional research available on his website. Unfortunately this is not the case; circular reasoning prevails.


Our group was duped into selecting this book based on the following description:  On March 8, 1421, the largest fleet the world had ever seen set sail from China to "proceed all the way to the ends of the earth to collect tribute from the barbarians beyond the seas." When the fleet returned home 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 the 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. And they colonized America before the Europeans, transplanting the principal economic crops that have since fed and clothed the world. (Amazon)

It’s sad that the Library of Congress catalogs this book under ‘History’ for it should be found under Fiction; it is at best pseudo-history given the number of ‘alternative facts’. Descriptions of the earliest voyages to Southeast Asia had some credible references but from East Africa onwards it became a complete fairy tale. We are adding our names to a petition already in progress to have this book reclassified. Given the propensity for sensationalism in publishing nowadays, one fears some may start to believe this myth.


Submitted by Joanne Mahendran


Book Group 1