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on 14 November 2012
I've just read this book. I had read criticisms of his work so I thought I'd give him a shot.

To be fair he is an interesting writer. However imho this book is more of a travelogue, a journey of self-discovery, than anything remotely resembling original research or conclusive evidence. As a travelogue it works quite well. He does introduce names of academics who have published works of interest for Diffusionists. Diffusionists are people who accept the possibility of ancient esp. trans-Atlantic trade and travel well before Columbus. Also trans-Pacific. I am quite happy to accept his premise that the Chinese could have sailed around the world and sparked the Renaissance in Europe. Anyone who reads The Genius of China by Robert Temple, or When China Ruled the Seas by Levathes, or Gods From the East by Mertz will already know about these possibilities.

However this is the problem. He seems to try to make certainties out of possibilities without any more conclusive evidence. The copper ingot story from the Great Lakes remains just that, a possibility. He discovers that the Minoans traded with Egypt, makes a big thing of this. But this is standard history - nothing new. He tries to make out that ancient Phoenician maps if such they are, were Minoan, but adduces no further evidence for this. This is largely because the evidence for Minoans from the Linear A period is extremely thin on the ground. So his entire work is highly speculative. He leads up the garden path on a number of issues without reaching conclusions based on any new evidence. Annoying.

He therefore lays himself open to attack by those conservative academics who want to 'debunk' any diffusionist theory before it sets sail. And in this way does the Diffusionist school no favours. I am a convinced Diffusionist and so felt doubly disappointed by his effort. He started interestingly with some observations about the ship fresco in Thera corresponding to the geography of the island. That was new and interesting. But after that the book seemed to go downhill. I'd read it all somewhere else before and much better presented elsewhere.

I won't say 'don't bother'. Its worth a read. But borrow it from the library before buying, and see whether its worth the price.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 21 April 2016
In a sense, this book's greatest contribution to historical research is not whether Gavin Menzies has definitively nailed the Minoan/Atlantis question, which he almost certainly hasn't, but rather it is the entertaining spectacle of Gavin Menzies disturbing the cosy vested interests of the Industrial Education Complex. Decent chaps that they all are, the overwhelming majority of historians are, one way or another, in the (monthly, and easily cancellable) pay of governments whose duty is to inspire and motivate its citizens. Time and time again, these same governments will spin and distort anything, including the work of their salaried historians, to produce what they believe is good for their current government. History is written by the victors. Alternative versions are also written by the losers!

Gavin Menzies may be right. Or he may not be. I agree with other reviewers that he definitely doesn't have sufficient evidence either way to be absolutely sure. But I don't feel the need to critique the minutiae of what he may, or may not, have gone some way to establishing. Common sense dictates that, as we're talking about 4,000 years ago, the evidence for anything is going to be thin, at best. I agree with other reviewers that the Lake Superior stuff is a heck of a stretch. But then so is the construction of the pyramids which historians generally wave through on the nod.

What I think is truly helpful about 'The Lost Empire of Atlantis' is that it has seriously ruffled the feathers of historians too scared to do what Gavin Menzies has done, which is to step outside of the dull fuzz of the Industrial Education Complex's Minoan nothingness, and to boldly go where no historian has gone before - to attempt to connect some seriously overdue disconnected dots. No, he is not a professional historian with his nose honorably buried in primary sources from pay check to pay check, but neither is he a charlatan. He is genuinely well intended and I anticipate that his work, even if it is ultimately proved to be very wrong, will accelerate the rate of learning and understanding of the Minoans and the mystery of Atlantis. 5 stars.
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on 9 November 2013
The tone and structure of this work, presenting the genuine research of generations of scientists as if it were some fantastically insightful and miraculous discovery of the author, and then placing it in the context of wild, unsupported speculation presented as fact, has just frustrated me to the point of leaving my first ever Amazon review. I would encourage people not to buy this book, except as an example of the self delusion and faulty reasoning to which humanity is so often prey.
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Surprising no one this book is filled entirely with speculation presented as fact, and fact treated as merely an inconvenience. We are entering the realm of pseudohistory and any attempt to wring out "facts" is bound to be confusing. Gavin Menzies is a former naval officer whose previous books (1421 and 1434) revealed how a culture (China)'s forgotten naval past was responsible for discovering America and stimulated the Italian Renaissance. Looking back even further he found another culture who's pattern in no way resembles the one in his previous book. The Atlanteans (Minoans)' forgotten naval past was responsible for discovering America and stimulated civilization throughout Europe. Amazing.

So his unfounded assertions are these:
1. The Atlanteans were really Minoans.
2. They not only discovered America but ran a major copper mine in Lake Superior.
3. They built Stonehenge and every other stone circle in Europe, but never on their own soil.

His evidence for such earth-shattering conclusions is:
1. The Minoans used copper of 99% purity. Only in Lake Superior is a copper mine of this purity known.
2. That's it.
3. No really, that's it. There is nothing else.

Aside from the fact that I question his basic assertion on that copper thing, proving that the Minoans did any of these things requires finding archaeological finds of a recognizably Minoan type in at least some of the sites in question. In fact, the evidence from all of these sites is that they were built by their own indigenous cultures. Stonehenge is built in the same basic manner as dozens of wooden henges scattered throughout Britain, including the numerous ones built on the same spot centuries earlier. There are other similar monuments scattered throughout Europe. It does not require the Minoans to explain that. Especially since he considers them a naval people and Stonehenge is located thirty miles inland. Many of the others are located even further from the sea. The equation of the Minoans with the Atlanteans is hardly a new idea. Unearthing Atlantis made the same assertion in a much more realistic and speculative manner.

The Lake Superior copper thing is the most extreme of his beliefs. It may come as a surprise to an ex-naval officer but facts do have to be backed up. Finding a source of copper that matches the purity of copper implements does no more than suggest a possibility. When the possibility requires activity far beyond the capabilities of a Mediterranean Bronze Age civilization it becomes an impossibility. The Minoans existed on a few islands in the Mediterranean. They didn't have the human or financial resources necessary to create the massive fleet and permanent outposts that he describes, nor did they have a reason to do so. If one has to choose between a copper mine of reasonable purity only a few hundred miles away (in Turkey for example, where we know they existed), or one on the other side of the globe then which one would you expect them to choose? And how were they supposed to have known such a mine existed anyway? They would have to have had a colony there to begin with. It just doesn't make sense.

Other techniques for proving his thesis include sailing around looking for landmarks from paintings. This at least sounds like a fun activity (especially for a naval man), but it just won't wash. He's searching for the main naval base, the 'Admiralty House', that he assumes existed. He assumes it existed because "without doubt the Minoan's military strength came from their navy." Since nothing is really known for sure about the Minoan military (there are no translated written sources) such an assertion is just an assumption. Certainly there's nothing surviving in their artwork to indicate the scale or organization of their forces or even whether they had a standing navy or simply commandeered merchant ships when needed. More to the point for his search, when Thera erupted it irrevocably changed the shape of the island. Half of it is now under water and the city itself is buried under hundreds of feet of ash that now forms part of the land and has changed the coastline of the remaining section of the island. So he's searching for a naval base that would be buried under hundreds of feet of earth in a landscape that has changed unrecognizably since the Minoans left it. Good luck with that.

But even he recognizes that Santorini can't account for all of Atlantis. So he posits that Plato's Atlantis is actually composed of three separate places:
1. "Atlantis' metropolis was really Santorini"
2. "The island in the Atlantic as big as Libya and Egypt was in fact America."
3. "Atlantis' manufacturing base and breadbasket was Crete."
So after thousands of years of entirely oral transmission these places were conflated into one. Again, no evidence. Just Plato's description (and possibly invention) of a prehistoric civilization for the purposes of a story on ethics, which has been taken way way too seriously by so many people over the centuries. Atlantis is an attractive myth, so there are always going to be people trying to locate it. But the fact that none of them agree with each other should tell you something. So I'm ending this review by repeating his last words: "Most important of all - what do you think?" If you read this book make sure you do your own thinking, because the reasoning here is extremely sub-par.
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on 17 January 2015
This book is in some ways a follow up of his previous books 1421 and 1434 where he traced the travels of the Chinese to America and the Mediterranean.
The authors aim was to define the extent of the Minoan empire when its base at Santorini island(Thera) was destroyed by a volcano in 1450 BC.
He deals wi
h this by a) showing that copper ingots from the wreck Ulunburun had a purity that was only found in mines near Lake Superior in North America b)analysis of a Minoan fresco c)tracing the American tobacco bug and cotton from the Americas and d) tracing the Henges on the western coasts of Europe.
Quite assumptions are made but i would like to think the whole adventure is fact.
A very good read.
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on 7 February 2014
This is another great book written with a fascinating trail of discovery and intuition, using that distinctive approach to maritime travel formed from being a worldwide navigator. His enquiring mind asks the questions you would love to have asked yourself, and I wonder why it has taken so long to join these specific dots together?

Just the thing to get you thinking, and brings a lot of what we take as gospel into question.
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on 21 August 2014
Another "I have seen the light and nobody else has" diatribe, rubbish which is only occasionally interesting.
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on 31 August 2015
One of the most interesting books I have read in the last 5 years, have passed copies on to at least 15 friend's
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on 19 July 2015
An interestng concept, though not of my personal agreement, but worth of any library and good to debate.
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on 4 April 2015
Why are the pictures listed in the introduction not in the book. Make it all somewhat useless.
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