25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
History & cultural lessons,
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This review is from: When China Ruled the Seas: The Treasure Fleet of the Dragon Throne, 1405-1433: The Treasure Fleet of the Dragon Throne, 1405-33 (Paperback)
While the West was still dragging itself out of the Dark Ages, China had a thriving sea trade with India and Africa, and arguably with places as far off as South America and Australia, not to be beaten for hundreds of years.
There is an incredible amount of history here, most of it unknown in the West, which sets the scene for the building of a massive trading fleet by the eunuch Admiral Zheng He, and his subsequent voyages of exploration. At least one type of ship was 400 feet long, at the time when Columbus's ships were under 100 - about 50 times the capacity.
So what went wrong? What could stop such a powerful naval nation in its tracks? An Imperial Decree - forbidding sea voyages, considering them unproductive, uneconomic and, more importantly, un-Confucian - effectively shut the door on Chinese expansion and fostered the introversion that has only ceased in the last few years.
Ms.Levathes has uncovered information hidden for years to present this highly informative and unusual subject in a very accessible form, although I did find the similarity of the Chinese names slightly confusing, which made for heavy reading at times. However, it still gets *****.
When China Ruled the Seas: The Treasure Fleet of the Dragon Throne, 1405-1433: The Treasure Fleet of the Dragon Throne, 1405-33(9 customer reviews)