Staff Picks: Books
Staff-recommended reading from the
The Great Chinese Treasure Fleets
We all know that Ferdinand Magellan organized and commanded the first expedition to sail completely around the world - right? Well … maybe not. After reading Gavin Menzies' 1434: the year a magnificent Chinese fleet sailed to Italy and ignited the Renaissance, I wonder. The author presents compelling historical and archaeological information which suggests that Christopher Columbus' "discovery" of America in 1492 and Magellan's voyage in 1520-21 may have followed great exploratory treasure fleets of China's Middle Kingdom - in 1434! While speculative - many scholars say this thesis is just wrong - still, it's really interesting to think about. There really were great Chinese fleets which sailed long distances and were able to use longitude to help in navigation. What if the Chinese emperor had not decided it would be better to stop exploration and have the ships burned? What if the Chinese had continued to sail, explore, and possibly even colonize areas in the new world? Our history would have been so different. If you like this book, try Menzies' 1421: the year China discovered America.
1434 : the year a magnificent Chinese fleet sailed to Italy and ignited the Renaissance