1421: ‘The Year China Discovered the World’ book review–Columbus did not reach America first

Your only choice is whether you define your philosophy by a conscious, rational, disciplined process of thought and scrupulously logical deliberation—or let your subconscious accumulate a junk heap of unwarranted conclusions, false generalizations, undefined contradictions, undigested slogans, unidentified wishes, doubts and fears, thrown together by chance, but integrated by your subconscious into a kind of mongrel philosophy and fused into a single, solid weight: self-doubt, like a ball and chain in the place where your mind’s wings should have grown. 

Ayn Rand — Speech to the United States Military Academy at West Point on March 6th 1974.  

That was the first thought I had upon closing the book to Gavin Menzies masterpiece, 1421: The Year China Discovered the World or more specifically, discovered America.  I had put the Menzies book on my “to read” list a long time ago, and recently found a window to give it the kind of attention I wanted.  The birth of the desire to read Menzies book was sent my way when a strategy game my family enjoyed playing released a very rare constructible 10-Masted Jade Rebellion Treasure Ship called the Baochuan with Admiral Zheng He as the crew.  The game was called Pirates: The Constructible Strategy Game.  The objective was to buy cards at a local Wal-Mart or Target in the gaming section, take them home and build the ships that were in the packs of cards, then use those ships to wage war on other gamers by turning every kitchen table available into a roaring sea of treasure hunting, naval warfare, and epic drama, CLICK HERE TO REVIEW.  My wife presented me with the valuable ship as a father’s day present in 2006 and to this day it is one of my most treasured possessions, as it can be seen from the picture below.  The gift was more than a miniature card cut-out that gave me a dramatically tactical advantage in that game, but it was the first exposure I had ever had to the gigantic treasure fleets of Zheng He constructed by 3rd Emperor of the Ming Dynasty Zhu Di.  The gigantic ships were over 400 feet long, half the size of the Titanic and were able to cross the oceans with sustainable living conditions which were absolutely unheard of with any sea fairing fleet anywhere in the world at that time.  The treasure ship my wife gave me as a simple game piece placed upon my mind countless answers to questions I had been trying to piece together my entire life, so the gift was magnificent not for the material value, but for the adventure it carried my mind on as the wings of my imagination grew even larger than they had been previously.DSC04726

The Wiz Kids gaming company had read Menzies book, and incorporated his theories into the overall mythology of the popular role-playing pirate game, which went to great lengths to unify sea fairing folklore with actual history.  It took me some time to accept the reality of the giant Chinese ships because they made the European counterparts of the Portuguese and Spanish fleets look like child’s toys in comparison.  So I did not run out and buy the Menzies book right away as I had a lot on my plate at the time professionally and such a concept of Chinese superiority that Menzies was making, would have long-range ramifications on world history, which would require special time to explore the concept.  So for over six years now, I have looked at my model of the Boachuan and wondered about the giant Chinese junks which explored the entire world while all of Europe and the occupants of the Mediterranean Sea were paddling around comparatively in canoes.  Finally, after many years, I had a window to read the Menzies book, and I took it.

The results were astonishing.  One of the apprehensions I had about Menzies was that most of his statements in the book were based on educated conjecture formulated by his unique life.  Once I started reading, the conjecture with which Menzies assembled his theories was no different from the failures of scholarship revealed so wonderfully in the great book Forbidden Archeology or the Leakey theories of mankind’s origin in Africa.  Menzies as a retired British submarine lieutenant commander and author had already traveled every corner of the world prior to his multi-year research which went into 1421: The Year China Discovered the World but he did it again as a researcher plotting with great accuracy detailed analysis of the navigation maps which were generated well before Columbus ever set sail from Spain.  Reading 1421 was like taking a trip around the world.  I feel I know the currents and wind directions of the world’s distant oceans and understand how to navigate ships by the star Polaris.  In the book, Menzies takes the reader on a journey at approximately 4 to 6 knots across the entire globe, from China to India, then to the coasts of Africa.  The fleet of Zheng He which numbered in the hundreds, if not thousands divided up their efforts and traveled in many different directions from there.  Some returned to China, some rounded Africa and moved up into the Atlantic splitting up once again near the Caribbean Sea.  Some of the Chinese went on to North America, some went to South America.  The fleet in South America split up once again to explore Antarctica traveling back to the East toward Australia.   The remainder traveled around the tip of South America then proceeded to Australia to split up once again, some heading back out into the Pacific and circling around by Canada and the west coast of North America interacting with land and indigenous people the entire distance.  Back to the journey of the east coast of North America, I learned of the Menzies theory off North Bimini Island which has long-held that the strange remains there are left over from Atlantis.  Menzies using the same conjecture that he constructed the entire book with logic, evidence, and a vast knowledge of how life at sea works, provided the best explanation I have ever heard of those strange remains which I contemplate heavily every time I visit Florida and look off to the east across the choppy ocean at the ruins that are a day’s boat ride from our family condo.

DSC04723The text of Menzies book contains castrations, gallivants with concubines, dangerous naval warfare, journeys to exotic lands, political intrigue, betrayal, cannibalism, and correspondence with the supernatural.  It also deeply dives into the history of cultures ranging from the Chinese all the way to Yucatan Peninsula and Mississippi trade societies.  In fact while reading 1421 I had written an article about the ancient culture of Cahokia deep upriver along the Mississippi—a culture with obvious Mayan influence.  CLICK HERE FOR REVIEW.  After completing the Menzies book, I did further investigation into the archeology of Cahokia and learned that as of 2010 A.D., it has been discovered at the base of the Pyramid of the Sun, that the inhabitants of that mysterious city were mining for copper, which is consistent with Menzies claims elsewhere.  Once the Chinese had dislodged their giant junks off the North Bimini Islands with large stones to repair their hulls, they proceeded to explore and settle North America even building settlements in modern-day Boston.  They lingered on up the coast exploring Greenland at a time of global warming which allowed them the unique opportunity to sail around the north tip of the island normally covered with ice.  During this period of 1421 the average ocean depth was one fathom (6 feet) lower than it is presently which can be explained away in diminished ice caps in the polar regions.  During these journeys all along the way, the Chinese left behind settlers to inhabit the furthest reaches of the earth leaving only a fraction of the original fleet to return home to China in 1423.  It is obvious that the Chinese had a major impact on shaping the Mayan culture and many of the “Native Americans” have turned out to not be so “native.”  For instance, one proposal provided by 1421: The Year China Discovered the World is that the Shawnee tribe which came out of Florida to inhabit the Ohio region was a shipwrecked crew of a Chinese junk.  These Shawnee proclaimed at the Battle of Fallen Timbers in northern Ohio that they were not “native,” to America.  Modern historians assumed this meant the “Indians” were aware of their crossing of the land bridge between Russia and Alaska many millenniums earlier.  But the origin of the Shawnee was much more recent, as in just a few generations.  There is an old Shawnee legend just outside present day Xenia, Ohio where silver was minded along the shores of the Little Miami.  When the Shawnee were driven from the area by General George Rogers Clark they hid their vast treasures of silver in the boggy marsh just behind their city of Old Chillicothe.  I have personally looked for this treasure and not yet found it.  It could theoretically be anywhere from the Clifton Gorge area to the birth place of Tecumseh, but what has always been curious to me about the legend is why the Shawnee were so interested in silver to begin with.  Many of these events were discussed in the wonderful book by Allen Eckert called The Frontiersman.  After reading Menzies book, the silver and copper mining makes a lot more sense, as do a number of other strange mysteries involving Native American lore.

Without question, Christopher Columbus did NOT discover America.  Rather, he and his brother ripped off maps from the Portuguese government who had acquired charts of the world during trade with the Chinese in Calicut which were made during the Zheng He voyages.  The Chinese at the time under Emperor Zhu Di wished to show their world domination of the arts, which at the time had no rival.  After the Occident lost its power and influence during the terrible loss of the Library in Alexandria, which I have written about also, then lost Rome to the barbarians soon after, Europe and most of the northern Africa was plunged into the Dark Ages.  If not for the Muslims, the works of Greek philosophers might never have seen the light of day again.  China did not experience such an intellectual set-back, and instead progressed on only experiencing an invasion by the Mongolians that did not have the same effect as the European Dark Ages.  The culture of China was not destroyed in the same way and once the Mongolians were defeated in rebellion, the Ming Dynasty took over and re-instated themselves as the dominate culture in the world.  Emperor Zhu Di rebuilt the Great Wall of China, and constructed the Forbidden City.  With the same zeal he built the largest fleet of ships ever constructed and the largest ever built prior to that time with only one exception, the tessarakonteres of Greek legend in the second century A.D.  In doing so the Emperor nearly bankrupted China of its resources leaving his successors to erase the far-reaching scope of the heart-broken Emperor who lost his favorite concubine in a fire started during a lightning strike igniting the Forbidden City in flame.  Upon the Emperor’s death, the records of the great treasure fleets of Zheng He were purged so that the taint of foreign cultures could not rot China as it had during Zhu Di’s reign.  The mandarin overseers destroyed all evidence except for a few personal diaries of the mammoth voyages to put the walls up against the world which had shown itself to be backward, and lost to ignorance.  This was a period where China would experience to a much less degree the loss of culture that the Occident experienced after the destruction of the Library at Alexandria.  This was the great purge of the Orient.

Under Zhu Di, he had wished to show the world how powerful China was by trading with every country his fleets could reach using a tribute system to keep every nation on earth in debt to the glory of China.  The Chinese would routinely give fine porcelain to villages along the African coastline and get in return jewelry of sea shells, which were worthless in comparison.  But the Chinese didn’t care, because the debt between the values kept the African countries in perpetual obligation to the Emperor.  It was this policy that the mandarins later would resent, and cause future Emperors to not duplicate the errors of Zhu Di by draining China of its wealth just to prove its superiority to the barbarian nations of the world who couldn’t even figure out how to use gunpowder.

The key to these wondrous voyages were the massive ships, the extremely large treasure ships half the size of the Titanic.  But with those gigantic vessels were hundreds of support ships, most of which would still dwarf any European ship in the early 1400s.  Most of the support junks were anywhere from 100 to 300 feet in length.  For comparison, the Victoria, which Magellan used to circumnavigate the world was only 70 feet long.  The treasure ships provided fresh water in gigantic tanks which actually housed sea lions which were used to herd fish into their nets at sea.  The treasure ships held horses which consumed roughly 3 gallons of water each every day along with other animals from all over the world.  The Chinese had the ability to desalinate their water while in transit keeping fresh water in plentiful supply.  On the decks of the big ships were vast gardens so that fresh vegetables could be constantly grown to provide a balanced diet while months at sea between landfalls.  If hostile nations attempted to attack the ships, the treasure fleets easily eradicated their opponents as these ships were the first to have cannons.  A confrontation with the treasure fleet would spell doom to anyone who tried to stand in their way.  With such ships 50 to 60 foot waves were much more manageable than the typical European vessel that would find themselves tossed about like toys.  The key to accepting the voyages of Zheng He who clearly mapped the world while Europe was still in the Dark Ages is in understanding that the Chinese had the ability to build such large ships, which have been denied as an impossibility by traditional scholars. Yet the evidence is apparent, and even though the ships have long decayed, historians who have built vast careers on the myth that Christopher Columbus discovered America, or are willing to grudgingly concede that the Vikings entered North America as a bunch of barbarian hoards raping and pillaging wherever they went, the idea that the Chinese were trading goods and services all over the world well before the Europeans learned to put a sail to the wind on the open sea is not a pleasant one.

The reason I thought of the Ayn Rand quote stated at the beginning of this article after reading 1421 is because the evidence that Menzies provided convinced me beyond a shred of doubt that the Chinese were far superior to Europe during the same time, and had in fact most likely settled North America not just through migration across the Bering Strait tens of thousands of years ago, but were trading with the Mayans, and forming tribes in America that would later be called “Native Americans” such as the Shawnee, the Navajo, and the ancient Cahokians.   Modern academia found the Menzies information “inconvenient” and an attack on their world view, so they have rejected him.  Of Menzies 2002 release of 1421 historian Robert Finlay said in 2004 that “Unfortunately, this reckless manner of dealing with evidence is typical of 1421, vitiating all its extraordinary claims: the voyages it describes never took place, Chinese information never reached Prince Henry and Columbus, and there is no evidence of the Ming fleets in newly discovered lands.”  The comments of Robert Finlay and many other academics that attacked Menzies for his extremely educated conjecture epitomize the quote stated at the start from Ayn Rand illuminating their fragmented minds built upon years of academic denials unable to accept that their own conjectures were incomplete upon their utterances and the new evidence provided by further research destroyed their previous theories.  Columbus did not discover America!

Menzies to my mind has accomplished a level of expertise that many of the academic critics of his work are desperately lacking.  Gavin Menzies as a British submarine lieutenant commander had a unique perspective shaped by years at sea.  Then in his retirement under the finance of his wife, he spent years and years skipping around the globe gathering up evidence, reading maps and charts in a way that only an old submarine commander could, and touched the far corners of the world by following in the footsteps of Zheng He the way a blood hound catches the scent of a target they cannot see or touch but can smell.  Academics and political progressives who wish to cover their faulty minds, their junk heap of unwarranted conclusions, false generalizations, undefined contradictions, undigested slogans, unidentified wishes, doubts and fears, thrown together by chance, have no choice but to slander the great work of Menzies from the comfort of their academic offices where the chill of the outside air gives them goose bumps.  They are all too willing to abandon logic for belief, and they wish to continue believing that Christopher Columbus discovered America.  To admit anything less is to change the way they see European history, and they might have to go to all the trouble of removing Columbus Day from their calendars which usually means a day off for government workers in the United States.  Nobody wants to give up a free holiday, so it is much easier to attack Gavin Menzies for a theory that will change the way human history sees itself.

For me the journey started with the little model junk that my wife gave me for Father’s Day, which provided me a new idea taking me to Menzies book six years later.  I have seen countless examples of modern academia standing in the way of science and the Menzies case is no different.  Academic arguments are not built upon logic, reason, or even a strict adherence to scientific validation.  Menzies has provided in his books the exact locations of several ship wrecks that are most likely the junks from Zheng He’s fleet, yet governments operate the waters of these wrecks, and governments work with academics to hold together the acceptable parameters of human thought.  There is no desire to dive those wrecks by established science and governments to prove Menzies correct even though the evidence is right under the water and is known to all.  Rather, governments and academics would rather drag their feet so to maintain plausible deniability of any truth that is contrary to their continued belief that it was the Europeans who settled North America not ships from half a world away.  Menzies developed a rare ability in all his years traveling the world’s oceans and putting into exotic ports even in the most remote portions of the globe–he developed wings for his mind where imagination meets reason to logically conjecture the evidence which has been destroyed to hide truths from a public who are to look to academics and politicians with the grace of royalty.  Those wings which the average academic lacks, takes Menzies to places where most historians can’t even dream to go, and upon reading 1421: The Year China Discovered the World the reader of that fine book has no choice but to grow wings of their own and follow on a journey that is epic in scope, and history altering in its implication.  It is a book of writing that is the best of the best in every category for which the written word was ever intended to paint a picture with imagination that will change the way those with wings upon their own minds see the world forever.  It is an epically brilliant book that is now one of my all-time favorites.

Now, please do watch the above documentaries so that the picture of this book’s importance can be placed in perspective. Then read the book! Out of ten stars, I give 1421: The Year China Discovered the World a perfect TWENTY!

You can get the book from Gavin’s website and follow all the latest discoveries which he continues to unravel each and every day.


Rich Hoffman

“If they attack first………..blast em’!”


2 thoughts on “1421: ‘The Year China Discovered the World’ book review–Columbus did not reach America first

  1. Stranger still are Columbus’s maps showing the complete coasts of Africa, South America, and even Antartica.
    Some believe these maps are from the last great flourishing of civilization and global sea trade 15,000 years ago.


    1. That would not surprise me. Like a spinning record human society goes around and around in a state of perpetual rise and fall. We’ve seen information that happened in our same century manipulated out of context till the truth is unrecognizable. Imagine what spin masters in education could do with millenniums?


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