How Not to (Re)Write World History: Gavin Menzies and the Chinese Discovery of America

In 1421:The Year China Discovered America, Gavin Menzies claims that several Chinese fleets sailed around the world, charting sea coasts, founding colonies, and creating a global maritime empire. Moreover, he argues that these Chinese exploits shaped European map making, thereby inspiring Portuguese overseas discoveries and the rise of the West. The author's attempt to rewrite world history, however, is based on a hodgepodge of circular reasoning, bizarre speculation, distorted sources, and slapdash research. In reality, the voyages described did not take place, Chinese exploration did not influence European cartography, and there is no evidence of the Chinese fleets in the Americas.