Saturday, April 16, 2011

1421 by Gavin Menzies (GRADE: F)

A student of mine recommended (and lent me) this book.  And so I read it.  Many hours later, here I am wondering if I'll ever take another recommendation for a book from a student again.  (NOTE: I probably will but I may be more judicious in the future instead of accepting book recommendations haphazardly.)  I grade this book an F!

I feel like this book stole many hours of my life from me.  I know, I know.  I could have stopped the book at any time but I didn't.  Maybe I should reconsider my conviction to finish every book that I start...

So that I don't contribute much more time to the time that this book, I will just quote  some things that I read on wikipedia concerning this book that reflects how I feel:

Criticism of 1421

Within the academic world, the book (and Menzies "1421 hypothesis") is dismissed by sinologists and professional historians.[23][24][25] In 2004, historian Robert Finlay severely criticized Menzies in the Journal of World History for his "reckless manner of dealing with evidence" that led him to propose hypotheses "without a shred of proof".[6] Finlay wrote:
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 fundamental assumption of the book—that Zhu Di dispatched the Ming fleets because he had a "grand plan", a vision of charting the world and creating a maritime empire spanning the oceans—is simply asserted by Menzies without a shred of proof ... The reasoning of 1421 is inexorably circular, its evidence spurious, its research derisory, its borrowings unacknowledged, its citations slipshod, and its assertions preposterous ... Examination of the book's central claims reveals they are uniformly without substance.[26]
A group of scholars and navigators, Su Ming Yang of the United States, Jin Guo-Ping of Portugal, Philip Rivers of Malaysia, Malhão Pereira and Geoff Wade of Singapore questioned Menzies' methods and findings in a joint message:[21]
His book 1421: The Year China Discovered the World, is a work of sheer fiction presented as revisionist history. Not a single document or artifact has been found to support his new claims on the supposed Ming naval expeditions beyond Africa...Menzies' numerous claims and the hundreds of pieces of "evidence" he has assembled have been thoroughly and entirely discredited by historians, maritime experts and oceanographers from China, the U.S., Europe and elsewhere.[21]
It has also been pointed out that Menzies has no academic training and no command of the Chinese language, which would prevent him from understanding original source material relevant to his thesis.[27]

In conclusion, I do NOT recommend this book to anyone!  I feel damaged by this book.  Now, I have all this misinformation floating around in my head!  UGG!  I grade this book an F.

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