I First read Gavin Menzies maybe about 10 years ago, the book was his bestseller 1421 in which he details his theory that Chinese Admiral Zheng He, visited the Americas prior to European explorer Christopher Columbus. Not only that but that he also visited Australia before it was said to exist by Europeans. I was hooked this book was so exciting. So naturally many years later when i heard he had another book 1434 which extends his previous theory to say the Chinese Admiral also visited Europe. I just had to get it.
in 1421 Menzies wrote the book informally, as a series of vignettes of his travels around the globe examining the “evidence” for his hypothesis. The book is filled with a lot of speculation as he tries to answer the main question of “on some early European world maps, it appear that someone had charted and surveyed lands supposedly unknown to Europeans. who could have charted and surveyed these lands before they were discovered”
in 1434 Menzies claims that in 1434 Chinese delegations reached Italy and brought books and globes that, launched the Renaissance. He claims that a letter written in 1474 by Toscanelli and found amongst the private papers of Columbus indicates that an earlier Chinese ambassador had direct correspondence with Pope Eugene IV in Rome. Menzies then claims that materials from the Chinese Book of Agriculture, the Nong Shu, published in 1313 by the Yuan dynasty scholar-official Wang-Zhen were copied by European scholars and provided direct inspiration for the illustrations of mechanical devices which are attributed to the Italian Renaissance titans of Taccola and Leonardo da Vinci
His first book was filled with alot more (in my opinion) evidence. He visited ship wreck sites, archaeological digs where Chinese artifacts were found. DNA analysis. But this second book seems to be more conjecture and assumptions.
That being said it is still an interesting read and while of course its just a theory it does give you some food for thought and does show how the scientific community doesn’t like outsiders telling them whats going on. I enjoyed this book quite a bit from an education point of view. regardless of its truth or not this plus the previous book of 1421 are must read for anyone interested in the era of early explorers and the age of discovery