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

3.42 of 5 stars 3.42  ·  rating details  ·  755 ratings  ·  166 reviews
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 ideas and ideals of classical Greece and Rome. But now bestselling historian Gavin Menzies makes the startling argument that in the year 1434, China—then the world's most technologically advanced civilization—provided the spark...more
Paperback, 416 pages
Published June 9th 2009 by William Morrow Paperbacks (first published June 3rd 2008)
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David R.
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 consider...more
rob
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.
Aaron
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
Hope
So there were some interesting bits. I enjoyed the first few pages, the last chapter, and some bits in the middle about DaVinchi. The rest was monotinous and slow and boring as all hell. The author kept telling the reader to visit his website for more information. It read more like a series of articles that should be in a magazine rather than a book. This tried to be many things, and got lost along the way. Just not my style of history book.
Christian
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...more
Jason Pettus
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com]. 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...more
Andy
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
Peter
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...more
Ryan Patrick
After reading most of this, I had to ask myself why I had never heard any of this stuff before. Looking at scholarly reviews of he book, I discovered why - this book is bunk. I'll admit that I was intrigued by what amounts to an engaging facade of hard research, but people who actually know about these sources can easily show how Menzies gets it all wrong. Despite everyone's desire to find that some unschooled layman can prove all the professionals wrong, this is not the case in this case. The r...more
Jeff Anderson
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
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
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.
Bobbi
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 "discov...more
Terry Earley
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).
http://www.1421.tv/

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....more
David
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, ind...more
Virginia
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...more
Troy
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...more
Mom
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 t...more
Lisa
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...more
Selucea
I should first state that I read history; I research history; I am no longer a professional in the field, but I can discern what is credible and what might not be, and what most certainly is not. THIS is not.

I do not doubt that Chinese traveler/merchants - possibly very wise, possibly with lots of Chinese-invented goodies - showed up in Europe during the early 15th C. Why not - Arab sea merchants went to China and plied the Mediteranean, South Indians knew the coasts of south Asia and Africa (in...more
Darth
This was a pretty interesting read. The premise does not seem like much of a stretch to me. I thought it was pretty common knowledge that the far east was advanced in many things.

The execution of the subject matter did come across a bit sloppy to my mind. Long tracts were repeated in different places, and there were inexplicable digressions to events in the authors own experience that REALLY left me scratching my head.

Percentage wise, very little of what is in this book is evidence for the thes...more
Rowan
I really enjoyed this book. I am huge a history nerd, and filling in the blanks on this subject is really important. Pretending that white people in Europe invents everything all on their own is super racist revisionist history that needs to be dispelled. The author does not say so, but I think that the long history of China's trade with Europe undercuts the case that England made for the opium war: that china refused to trade with anyone else.

One of the only bad thing I have to say about this...more
Lesandre
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.
Steve
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.
Michael
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.
Chamath
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....
Babs
I love history and was interested in reading this...until I started to read it. I don't like made-up history! I abandoned the book in the 3rd chapter. What saddens me about so-called history like this is that it cheapens the very fascinating real history of China. This huge fleet showed up in places all over the world and it's not chronicled anywhere? No paintings/sketches?

Not only that, I don't appreciate a book that continually tells me to look something up on the author's website. Notes at...more
Anne Hamilton
A very difficult book to rate. There are some thought-provoking and impressive ideas here and it is easy to get swept up in a seemingly compelling wave of evidence. However, on checking Menzies' website, the actual evidence seemed poorly documented to say the least (or perhaps I simply missed it because site navigation certainly wasn't intuitive). As a result of examining the website, the sense that Menzies had a massive case for his critics to answer plummeted.

So I'm left with: maybe. Possibly....more
Cassandra Spencer
This book was unfortunately a huge disappointment. As an AP World History teacher and lover of history from a non-euro-centric viewpoint, I was hoping for great things. However, this book takes what could ultimately be fascinating and twists into a tale of engineering, mathematics, and babel that ultimately comes off as dry.

Ultimately, I feel the book just tries to do too much. Within each chapter there are stories that could compose books of their own. The author makes very surface level claims...more
Jon Box
I'm not really sure what to make of this "story" . . . I really can't admire the lack of intellectual rigor Menzies puts into the actions and motives of the Europeans; folks who may have consulted information gained from Chinese writings to come up with ideas and inventions that led to the Renaissance. He assumes they were plagiarizing and exploiting the Chinese. He doesn't seem to have practical knowledge how problems are solved. He doesn't deal with the language barrier which must have been fo...more
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3284
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...
1421: The Year China Discovered America The Lost Empire of Atlantis: History's Greatest Mystery Revealed Who Discovered America? The Untold History of the Peopling of the Americas 1434 1434

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