by Gavin Menzies - £10.99 Bantam Books (2004)
paperback ISBN 13: 9780553815221 | ISBN 10: 0553815229
In 1421, the largest fleet the world had ever seen set sail from China. The ships, some nearly five hundred feet long, were under the command of Emperor Zhu Di's loyal eunuch admirals. Their orders were 'to proceed all the way to the end of the earth'.
The voyage would last for 2 years, and by the time the fleet returned, China was beginning its long, self-imposed isolation from the world it had so recently embraced. And so the great ships were left to rot and the records of their journey destroyed. And with them, the knowledge that the Chinese had circumnavigated the globe a century before Magellan, reached America 70 years before Columbus, and Australis 350 years before Cook.
This book is the result of 15 years of research by Gavin Menzies, an enthralling account of this remarkable journey, of his discoveries and the persuasive evidence to support them - ancient maps, precise navigational knowledge, astronomy, surviving accounts of Chinese epxlorers and later European navigators, as well as the traces the fleet left behind.
(Price & availability last checked: February 2020)