1421: The Year China Discovered America – Gavin Menzies

Few things make me happier than when a regular person makes the academiccommunity look like the close-minded ignoramuses far too many of them are. Whether-or-not Menzies' thesis that the Chinese actually traveled and mapped the world generations before Columbus (and, additionally, that the Portuguese were in America before Columbus arrived) is correct is almost less important than what he has produced. He has done what few, if any, scholars do, up in their ivory towers of tenure, and that is prove that the world is still open to interpretation, that the curious can still discover new facts, and that the findings can be presented in an accessible and exciting form. Menzies, the former British naval officer, uses his personal history and skills to reinterpret ancient maps to uncover what apparently was right in the open. This has scholars furious out of both jealousy and the fact that Menzies isn’t always very scientific, but he doesn’t have to be. While he makes conclusions that cause me to raise an eyebrow, it is up to the scholars to investigate—something they should have been doing all long.