Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “1434: The Year a Magnificent Chinese Fleet Sailed to Italy and Ignited the Renaissance” as Want to Read:
1434: The Year a Magnificent Chinese Fleet Sailed to Italy and Ignited the Renaissance
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

1434: The Year a Magnificent Chinese Fleet Sailed to Italy and Ignited the Renaissance

3.43  ·  Rating Details ·  1,035 Ratings  ·  205 Reviews
The New York Times bestselling author of 1421 offers another stunning reappraisal of history, presenting compelling new evidence that traces the roots of the European Renaissance to Chinese exploration in the fifteenth century

The brilliance of the Renaissance laid the foundation of the modern world. Textbooks tell us that it came about as a result of a rediscovery of the i
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published December 31st 2008 by Harper Collins Publishers (first published June 3rd 2008)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about 1434, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about 1434

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
David R.
Aug 29, 2010 David R. rated it did not like it
Shelves: world-history, travel
An absolute piece of nonsense. Menzies, like Erich von Daniken (Chariots of the Gods) before him, is fixed on a theory of history and evaluates "data" only on the basis of whether they fit his theory. It is amusing that some of the very things von Daniken insisted were gifts of extraterrestrials Menzies claim came from early 15th Century Chinese. And like von Daniken with his aliens, Menzies doesn't think anyone but the Chinese came up with anything technological on their own. This book ...more
Jul 28, 2008 rob rated it did not like it
Promising subject matter undone by unreadable prose and inscrutable logical progression. I can't explain the author's lengthy digressions into maritime minutiae while broadly glossing over more fundamental questions raised by his thesis, other than by supposing he's a sailor first and author second.
Jan 11, 2011 Aaron rated it did not like it
Shelves: history
I picked this up as a bargain bin find, and I still got ripped off. There SEEMS to be enough evidence (although, I am leary of saying the evidence he gathers is all that great) to suggest Chinese contact with Europe for many centuries; however, the author's specific "story" of a fleet that provided all of the fuel for the blossoming of the Renaissance seems far-fetched. The evidence is not examined at great lengths, and a lot of his research depends on the British Library System; the author does ...more
Nov 23, 2013 Peter rated it did not like it
The only thing worse than Gavin Menzies' writing is his faulty logic and poor research. "1434" is an example of what happens when someone starts with a fantastic conclusion, come up with a series of unproven events leading to that conclusion, and ignores any contradictory evidence. Mr. Menzie's argument goes as follows:

In 1434, a Chinese Fleet sailed to Italy and met with the pope. (No 15th century accounts exist in Italy or elsewhere in the Mediterranean of a large fleet of Chinese Junks being
Jun 24, 2008 Christian rated it really liked it
Shelves: world
I'm sorry I haven't logged in to GoodReads recently... you see, I walked by my favorite book store the other day and saw that Gavin Menzies had a new book out. So I overdrew my bank account, bought the book, and have had my nose in it ever since.

1434 is the followup to his brilliant and astonishing previous book, 1421.

In 1421 Mr. Menzies puts across a compelling argument that an enormous Chinese fleet circumnavigated the globe in the year 1421, and made "first contact" with all the continents of
Jason Pettus
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography []. I am the original author of this review, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted here illegally.)

We Westerners are of course familiar with the historical period known as the Renaissance; taking place between the 1300s and 1600s, it's the period when Europeans finally crawled out of their Dark-Age hole, rediscovered such ancient Greek concepts as science and philosophy, and started doing such thi
May 17, 2011 Andy added it
0 (Zero) stars. What an awful book. Terrible. I finished this only because I started it but what a poor reason to do so. The title of the book is misleading. Very few pages, actually, no pages, are spent describing the interactions that supposedly occurred between the Italians and Chinese. Rather, the author covers ground previously gone over in his other book, 1421. Ok, I get it, the Chinese, or so he claims, knew more about geography than Europeans did. When Menzies does get around to possible ...more
Dec 25, 2014 Alger rated it did not like it
Insane and ridiculous.

I picked this up hoping for either an entertaining alt-history, or failing that, an eccentric read on Chinese history and technology. Instead what you get is akin to being locked in a room for 18 hours with a monomaniac with Attention Deficit Disorder popping speed and rummaging through a pile of newspaper clippings he has collected for several decades that proves, PROVES!!, his argument that the moon landings were faked to cover up the CIA assassination of Pocahontas beca
Oct 06, 2012 David rated it it was amazing
This is a fascinating book about how, in the early 1400's, the Chinese sent enormous fleets around the world, spreading their views, sciences, and technologies. These fleets were packed with enormous encyclopedias, learned scholars, scientists, geographers, and of course weapons for protection. Gavin Menzies presents a wide range of original research, where he has found abundant evidence for these fleets reaching far outposts around the globe. He relates how his visits to museums, libraries, ...more
Jeff Anderson
Jun 05, 2009 Jeff Anderson rated it it was ok
Couldn't finish this book. It was one continuous advertisement for the author's website and theories. Interesting ideas were discussed, but I think this guy does not follow a scientific approach to research. Instead he starts with the idea that every significant technological advance and geographical discovery was first accomplished by or only achieved because of the Chinese. His book is a "proof" of that thesis, but I'm not entirely convinced and got sick of being referred to his website which ...more
Thomas Kinsfather
Jul 21, 2010 Thomas Kinsfather rated it it was ok
If the outrageous claims and historical speculations in 1421 didn't completely turn you off, 1434 offers more of the same. Gavin's two books have been torn to shreds by ravenous critics across the internet. Like 1421, probably not worth your time reading unless you have a deep interest in Chinese history and the patience to sort out fact from fiction.
Phivan Wright
Jul 15, 2009 Phivan Wright rated it it was ok
My lone book this summer. The premise is fascinating - the Chinese jump started the Renaissance - but the writing is disconcerting, Menzies keeps referring to himself and his personal experiences and telling people to go to his website. I almost wish someone else had written the book.
Aug 08, 2012 Bobbi rated it it was ok
After the pleasurable recountings of history by David McCullough, it was a rude awakening to immerse myself in this book. The author writes like it is a doctoral thesis proving the influence of the Chinese on the bright Italian scholars of the time (da Vinci, Brunelleschi, Alberti, Toscannelli) that caused the Renaiassance. I buy his suppostion,as he supports it with thousands of documents and comparisons of Chinese drawings, maps, and books (many created hundreds of years before) to the ...more
Terry Earley
Mar 09, 2009 Terry Earley rated it liked it
A couple of years ago, I read Gavin Menzies' book 1421: The Year China Discovered America and was surprised about the influence that Chinese mapping and navigational technology had on European exploration. See the book's website for more detail (and shameless promotion).

Note that the title has changed to "The Year that China Discovered the World"

His followup book 1434: The Year a Magnificent Chinese Fleet Sailed to Italy and Ignited the Renaissance, was even more informative.
Oct 11, 2014 Jacob rated it it was ok
Shelves: history
These oddball theories always attract me. Some of them have an odor of truth to them. Others are for nut jobs. Unfortunately, Menzies fails to present solid evidence to evaluate his claims.

His thinking goes like this.

The Chinese invented lots of stuff before Europeans.
The Chinese sailed in big boats in medieval days.
Therefor the Chinese gave Europeans all their inventions and this started the Renaissance.

While the 1st two are facts, the 3rd line demands support which to any interested reader wou
Jun 22, 2010 Troy rated it really liked it
As with reading 1421, you get the feeling that Gavin Menzies is a little bit of an obsessive kook, but even though he interrupts his stories with discussions of the wine he drank with his wife in a particular European hotel, he only occasionally bends the evidence to fit his preconceived notion.

He doesn't claim to be more of an expert than he is, and for all his shortcomings in writing style and cohesive case building (it's more of a drawn-out story than a debate), the evidence he finds and conn
Sep 30, 2009 Virginia rated it it was ok
Menzies' scholarship is impressive! The amount of painstaking research that went into the creation of this book boggles my mind, and I'll admit (although I was VERY skeptical of his position before reading the book), he DID make me re-think my overly Western view of world history.

However, "incredible scholarship" is all too often synonymous with "somewhat boring", and eventually that came to be the case with 1434. I stuck with it for a long time, but I'll confess that I'm putting it away now wit
Oct 19, 2008 Mom rated it really liked it
This is a fascinating book that describes the Chinese fleet that in 1434 sailed into the Mediterranean bringing the entire Chinese encyclopedia, maps, drawings of inventions and shared them. The author states that both Christopher Columbus and Amerigo Vespucci as well as Portuguese navigators had the Chinese maps and that the Chinese inventions led to the drawings of Leonardo da Vinci and others. This history was all new to me and astonishing. This was not an easy read for me, but it was worth ...more
Sep 10, 2009 Lisa rated it really liked it
Another compelling book from Menzies.
His first book, "1421" was for me one of the best books I've read so this sequel needed to really deliver. The information was just as exciting, well documented and just as ground breaking, however it was somewhat more burdensome to read. I felt that Menzies put more of his research in the body of the work rather that pushing it to footnotes. Since I read footnotes, it meant less flipping for me, but it also took away some readability. I would give it a 3.5
Dec 18, 2011 Lesandre rated it it was ok
More compelling evidence that the Chinese traversed the globe first. Not as exciting of a read as 1421, but plenty of sources from which to depart and study further. I certainly think Menzies has a better grasp of the way things happened than most historians and scholars. Wish his work were more widely acknowledged.
Aug 24, 2009 Steve rated it it was amazing
A good sequel to the author's '1421', this book debunks many of the myths taught as 'history' in western euro-centric school systems. If you doubt what the author is saying in these books, have a talk with someone who grew up in China. They already know a lot of this information.
Aug 23, 2008 Chamath rated it it was ok
Former British naval officer Menzies, contends that Chinese admiral Zheng He's fleet sailed west as far as Florence causing a major transfer of knowledge from China to the 'west'(including technology) and stimulating the renaissance....
Sep 13, 2009 Michael rated it did not like it
not sure about this yet. Stalled on this one - not really scholarly in style, and seems more like a junior school book review than a history book.

Yes, I'm being harsh. I suppose because the author really isn't carrying off his intentions as far as I'm concerned.
Earl Grey Tea
Feb 24, 2016 Earl Grey Tea rated it did not like it
Shelves: history
I am angry that I spent money on this book. I am only consoled slightly that I bought it used and none of that money went directly to the author.

I hastily picked up this book during one of my rare visits to the English used book store since it is so far from my house. From my quick skim of the cover, I thought it would be an interesting piece about how Chinese technology influenced Europe during the Renaissance. I was gravely mistaken.

The crux to Gavin Menzies theory is that Chinese books from t
Lucy Gray
Oct 19, 2016 Lucy Gray rated it it was ok
skim read this book as it was veery dense and difficult for me to read and enjoy
Aug 21, 2015 Michael rated it liked it
I read the two books by Gavin Menzies, 1421 and 1434, as a two volume set as that, in effect, is what they are. Both books deal with the huge Chinese fleets of Admiral Zheng He. The first was, according to Menzies, a voyage of discovery of the entire world including the first circumnavigation of the world during which the Chinese established settlements all around the Americas. The second was a voyage to the Mediterranean Sea through the Suez Canal to meet with the Pope in Italy.

Personally, I ha
May 21, 2010 Sarah rated it liked it
Mixed feelings on this book. Some parts I loved and others I didn't. It's a history book, so keep that in mind before picking it up- it's stereotypically dry with lots of names and dates and not great flow through the story. But if you're an international history nerd & astronomy buff and into that kind of thing- moi- then you'll probably really like this book.

The author purports through lots of archealogical, anthropoligical, cultural, literary, etc. evidence that the Chinese fleets had be
Jeannie Mancini
Dec 27, 2010 Jeannie Mancini rated it really liked it
Gavin Menzies' newest book 1434, takes up where he left off in his prior book 1421, that was focused on the voyages of the Chinese navigator Admiral Zheng He. Menzies picks up the thread in this outstanding new history book continuing to show new evidence of Zheng He's influence to other European countries, specifically Italy at the time of the Renaissance.

1434 presents startling information, that is more than likely and highly plausible, regarding the fact that Admiral Zheng He did reach Americ
Alejandro Melo-Florián
Jun 25, 2016 Alejandro Melo-Florián rated it it was amazing
La versión que leí está en castellano. El autor Gavin Menzies trabajó en la marina británica y en su amor por la historia, ha visitado muchos museos y establecido contacto con muchos autores, entre ellos varios en China. La obra es controversial, porque tiende a minar el eurocentrismo en el tema del descubrimiento de América y lo que hizo Colon, fue contar con la evidencia de varios mapamundi como los de Waldsee y Muller en los cuales estaba descrita la presencia de América, en aquella época ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Handbook to Life in Ancient Rome
  • From Emperor To Citizen: The Autobiography Of Aisin Gioro Pu Yi
  • The River at the Center of the World: A Journey Up the Yangtze & Back in Chinese Time
  • Hitler's Second Book: The Unpublished Sequel to Mein Kampf
  • Samurai
  • Foxfire 12
  • 1587: A Year of No Significance: The Ming Dynasty in Decline
  • God's Crucible: Islam and the Making of Europe, 570-1215
  • After the Revolution: Profiles of Early American Culture
  • Caliban's Shore: The Wreck of the Grosvenor and the Strange Fate of Her Survivors
  • Up Front
  • The Dynasties of China: A History
  • The Utterly, Completely, And Totally Useless Fact-o-pedia
  • Mao's Great Famine: The History Of China's Most Devastating Catastrophe, 1958-62
  • A History of Mistresses
  • The Custom of the Sea
  • The Foxfire Book of Appalachian Cookery
  • Emperor of China: Self-Portrait of K'ang-Hsi
Former British submarine commander and amateur historian.

Menzies is most known for his book "1421: The Year China Discovered the World" which claims that the Chinese admiral Zheng He discovered America in 1421.

In his follow up book "1434" He claims that the European Renaissance was sparked by the Chinese.
More about Gavin Menzies...

Share This Book