1421: The Year China Discovered the World is a bit of a ground-breaking, or controversial, re-writing of history.
It follows a retired submarine captain who uncovers a thesis that claims that a lot of the history we were taught at school level is not necessarily correct. Gavin Menzies argues, and rather convincingly I may add, that the Chinese were the initial explorers of the world. He believes they were the first to reach the Southern tip of Africa, Australia, and North and South America well before the Portugese and Spanish discoverers found them.
Menzies claims further that North America was discovered by the Chinese well before Columbus, South Africa reached well before Diaz, and Australia well before Cook.
The basis for his discovery/thesis is various maps he found that pre-date all of the historic journeys of discovery, that actually show the continents and islands before they were supposedly discovered.
Finding, researching and deciphering these maps, he then goes on an exhaustive journey of discovery for many years to obtain further evidence of his claim.
If you Google Menzies, you will find that he is not without opposition/controversy, but taking note of the grand scale of his claims, one is not surprised at such opposition.
Weather you choose to believe his claims or not, the book still gives you lots of food for thought. In summary, a good book, exhaustive evidence, and really interesting historical (or fictional, if you choose) reading. Although quite arrogantly written at times, thoroughly thought provoking.
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