• by Gavin Menzies
  • Narrated by Simon Vance
  • 9 hrs and 53 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

The brilliance of the Renaissance laid the foundation of the modern world. Textbooks tell us that it came about as a result of a rediscovery of the ideas and ideals of classical Greece and Rome. But now bestselling historian Gavin Menzies makes the startling argument that in the year 1434, China - then the world's most technologically advanced civilization - provided the spark that set the European Renaissance ablaze. From that date onward, Europeans embraced Chinese ideas, discoveries, and inventions, all of which form the basis of Western civilization today.
The New York Times bestselling author of 1421 combines a long-overdue historical reexamination with the excitement of an investigative adventure, bringing the listener aboard the remarkable Chinese fleet as it sails from China to Cairo and Florence, and then back across the world. Erudite and brilliantly reasoned, 1434 will change the way we see ourselves, our history, and our world.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Fiction pretending to be history

What disappointed you about 1434?

This book was blowing my mind... until I found out it isn't really true.

Or, rather, some of it's true, some of it isn't, which's arguably worse, because then you can't tell the difference. If it were all fiction, that'd be fine, it'd be literature. But sadly, when you look at actual historical scholarship, many of the things Menzies writes about (like the Chinese fleet getting to Venice, the crux of the book) are crank speculations lacking any evidence. It's too bad, because even without that, the parts of the book that are factual would've already been mind-blowing enough, there's no need to turn it into fiction just to make it a few percent sexier.

My advice: go read some credible historical texts about the Chinese treasure fleet. It's mind-blowing enough.

Would you ever listen to anything by Gavin Menzies again?


If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from 1434?

All of the inaccuracies

Any additional comments?

I wish I could get my money back.

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- Chupacabracito

A contrary view that has some merit

Gavin Menzies has illuminated us with an alternate history of the world that is backed up by his extensive research. I still had to feel that whatever books were shared with the Europeans had to have been in Chinese,so without good translators I find it a bit hard to believe that the Italians could have simply copied many designs from the Chinese and set off the Renaissance in Europe. Maybe Michael Angelo was simply a talented artist who set about taking these ancient texts and vividly improving the quality of the pictures within. Much like 1421, I think this book might be one best read and so when I have some time I will check out both from the library and have a good look at the pictures provided. The maps and artifacts demand visual representation that an audiobook simply can't provide. This was an entertaining book and was well narrated by Simon Vance, who has an excellent British accent. Maybe Audible could provide us with a PDF of these photos to further enhance our understanding of what could be a very clear and significantly different history from what we learned in school. Some other good histories were provided by Jared Diamond in Guns, Germs and Steel and a pair of books called 1491 and 1493, which also challenge the dogma we have been presented.
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- matthew

Book Details

  • Release Date: 01-28-2014
  • Publisher: HarperAudio