On March 8, 1421, the largest fleet the world had ever seen set sail from China to "proceed all the way to the ends of the earth to collect tribute from the barbarians beyond the seas." When the fleet returned home in October 1423, the emperor had fallen, leaving China in political and economic chaos. The great ships were left to rot at their moorings and the records of their journeys were destroyed. Lost in the long, self-imposed isolation that followed was the knowledge that Chinese ships had reached America seventy years before Columbus and had circumnavigated the globe a century before Magellan. And they colonized America before the Europeans, transplanting the principal economic crops that have since fed and clothed the world.
Gavin Menzies is the globally bestselling author of "1421: The Year China Discovered America" and "1434: The Year China Ignited the Renaissance". His ideas have been profiled in the "New York Times", "New York Times Magazine", and "Wall Street Journal", and he has lectured at the Library of Congress (Washington, D.C.), Royal Geographical Society (London), National Maritime Museum (London), and Great Hall of the People (Beijing). He served in the Royal Navy for nearly two decades, becoming a submarine captain. His knowledge of seafaring and navigation sparked his interest in the epic voyages o