Living within the European focussed world view that many of us have had instilled into us from an early age it is often hard to forget that there are and were highly developed civilisations besides the Europeans, and the Europeans weren't necessarily always the first to achieve or discover things. In 1421 Gavin Menzies sets out a believable hypothesis that the first nation to 'discover' and 'chart' the rest of the world outside of their own locality was the Chinese and not those who we're led to believe such as Columbus and Magellan. He also sets out many pieces of evidence to show that China had a tremendous level of contact and influence on many nations around the world including the Aboriginals, Maori, Native Americans, African nations and more. The final strand of his hypothesis goes on to show that the European explorers were actually in possession of Chinese maps before they set out into the 'unknown'. Perhaps the most fascinating elements of the book is realising how advanced the Chinese were, long before the rest of the world, in terms of technology, trade and attitude (there are no cases of Chinese slaughtering native races for no reason) and the shear scale of their operations, showing that the Chinese wielding massive power and potential is nothing new. The fact that China has only recently come out of the self imposed insularity it commenced in 1421 (thus drawing to a close it's exploration and trading empires) makes this a very current and apt book. Gavin Menzies style is extremely enthusiastic, he is clearly passionate about his subject, he repeats himself a lot and his somewhat amateurish writing style sometimes grates, some waffling aside though, this is a truly fascinating read that makes you question a lot of what we believe and hold true in European society.