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Author Topic: American History  (Read 29564 times)
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thanatopsy
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« Reply #675 on: August 16, 2007, 06:18:11 PM »

sensationalist author

Interesting phrase.  Most historians, while being quite thorough in their research and conclusions, nevertheless retain some measure of detachment from their work.  In this manner, the author allows the facts to speak for themselves. Yet, throughout 1421 there are repeated references to '' I '' by the author.  It is as if he is trying to convince the reader that these ''facts'' need to believed regardless as to whether they are true or not.

Does anyone recall any purported history book that takes the approach Menzies uses?

The only ones I can recall is the aforementioned mythic writings by Tristan Jones.
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weezo
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« Reply #676 on: August 16, 2007, 06:44:06 PM »

Menzies does not say or pretend to be a historian. He does not write like a historian, and his research is not as thorough as a historian's. I do not see where he compels the reader to "believe". He says what he has found. He says what he thinks it means. He is not doing your thinking for you.

I have been reading a book by Dumas Malone, a respected historian, at least around these parts, who wrote "The Sage of Monticello", with nary a discouraging word about the almost saint like subject of his book. So, yes I do recall, have read, and for the most part, forgotten histories written by people who do not approach their subject objectively.

In reading the book for the second time (the first time I could scarcely put it down), I am reading to distringuish between Menzies conjecture and the facts that he presents. There are facts there. There are conjectures. There are maps that sound authentic, and there are maps that have "disappeared" since he knew or heard of them and memory is a hard fact to prove.

What is certain is that Columbus did not "discover" anything new.

And, what is certain, is that in reading Menzie's book I am learning new things about the Chinese of the 15th century that I was not exposed to in any history courses I took.
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caclark
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« Reply #677 on: August 16, 2007, 06:47:38 PM »

"Menzies does not say or pretend to be a historian."

He's contemptuous of historians according to the article I have linked below. I've done some googling trying to find any historians who speak in his defense. So far, I haven't found a single one. His book has found a readership but historians by and large regard his book as quack history.

http://www.historycooperative.org/journals/jwh/15.2/finlay.html
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madupont
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« Reply #678 on: August 16, 2007, 07:43:19 PM »

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Needham

I had the good pleasure of being able to take notes  and read from his first huge volume, not knowing at the time that it was to be a series, sometime back in the pre-mid-Seventies.   I have been wracking my brains to recall his name since this discussion began and then it just clicked in my head --just now--one of the advantages of using his research for your own is that he covers almost every aspect of the sciences in China so that you can locate information on anything that you want to prove or disprove.  Being able to obtain the books is another matter. They are large and expensive.  Not knowing that at the time, I just had Shir Tung forward me the title on interlibrary loan from Princeton where he was curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts. I had a standing order with him, to cram as much as I could within the shortest period of time. Good thing, I did.

http://www.nri.org.uk/science.html

Be sure to also click on the link to the right hand side of page, "New volumes in series"

Also click on the External links, English, which says some thing to the right about "just ignore the picture at the top";

it did kind of surprise me because he was the Tibetan guru of my friend Okanta, who told me that he saved her when she had an accident while she was camping in one of the California parks with her son who was very young at the time.  I can not recall his name.  But who can forget a smiley face like that?
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thanatopsy
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« Reply #679 on: August 16, 2007, 11:00:50 PM »

"Menzies does not say or pretend to be a historian."

He's contemptuous of historians according to the article I have linked below. I've done some googling trying to find any historians who speak in his defense. So far, I haven't found a single one. His book has found a readership but historians by and large regard his book as quack history.

http://www.historycooperative.org/journals/jwh/15.2/finlay.html


Excellent article by Finlay --- thanks for posting it.

When  first  reading Menzies, not knowing that it was subject to so much criticism, I put it down because it seemed entirely too fictitious.  Now I can read it more readily because  it is so utterly comical.  On my way to work on the city bus this morning, I had to put the book down briefly because it made me laugh so much.  Sorry to say it folks but this indeed is sham history.

Just think - if the Ming fleet was so intent and making such a good impression upon the world powers, why did it decide to stop in Greenland when it had all of the European powers at its feet only a few nautical miles away?  Did the Vikings scare them away?  Or did they scare away the Vikings?  If the Chinese mariners knew their longitude and latitudes so  well, they had to have known that Europe was only a few miles away. So why turn away when they had every opportunity to exact tribute the way they supposedly wanted according to Menzies.  If they enjoyed Borinquen (Puerto Rico) so much that they repeatedly stopped there, and they were such marvelous miners, why didn't they extract some of that gold that flourished there?  Perhaps they had the foresight to know the Spaniards would be there half a century later and had the kindness to allow them to have that gold for themselves!   And the idea of transporting thousands of horses in ships over the span of a few years and depositing them everywhere out of a sense of beneficence is beyond all belief.  In fact, when we read the book 1491 by Charles Mann it was well established that none of the Native Americans of South America had ever seen or heard of horses.  By what magic is Menzies able to re-write history?Huh

One last thing: Menzies suggests that Chinese were indirectly responsible for Europeans getting their hands on corn even though the fleet didn't go to that land mass directly.  Perhaps he failed to read the Bible as corn (which science has incontrovertibly proven to be of Native American origin) is mentioned in the Bible in Genesis 27:28, 37.  Therefore, Europeans could not possibly have been introduced to that grain by Chinese fleets sailing in the 15th century as they had been eating it since time immemorial.

I'm only up to page 210 in Menzies but am enjoying the good laugh at his comedy. With that in mind, I'm anxious to see what readers have to say about it.
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madupont
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« Reply #680 on: August 16, 2007, 11:08:26 PM »

Bob,
Another policy book, or rather study of how policy connects to group-think. http://press.princeton.edu/titles/8152.html
       
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madupont
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« Reply #681 on: August 16, 2007, 11:14:32 PM »

thanatopsy,re:#735

"Perhaps he failed to read the Bible as corn (which science has incontrovertibly proven to be of Native American origin) is mentioned in the Bible in Genesis 27:28, 37. "

 I think this was a failure to know that translations of the Bible into English that use a generic term for grain by calling it "corn" (as in that  popular record album of the late Sixties,"John Barley-corn") misrepresent what was growing according to Genesis.
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nytempsperdu
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« Reply #682 on: August 17, 2007, 12:38:15 AM »

Byrd Park!!  Of course, and thank you weezo for straightening out my memory.  Much obliged.

If my observations are not discredited by faulty memory as exhibited above, maybe I can speculate re the info re European "corn" referring to grain, not specifically to the New World "maize."  A relative interested in family geneaology has told me that one way-back family name was "Du Ble" which was translated/anglicized when some ancestors migrated from Normandy to Britain in the late 12th C. and the name became "Wheat" though it could have been "corn," a general term for grain.  If this smacks too much of passed-down family joke, also consider "corn" as in corned beef--in that case it was grain-sized pieces of salt to preserve the beef that gave it the name, nothing to do with what was fed to the beef.     

We now return you to your regular programming....
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« Reply #683 on: August 17, 2007, 02:29:21 AM »

With so many here of the opinion that Menzies book is a farce, I don't see how any discussion can occur.  Thus, I excuse myself.
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thanatopsy
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« Reply #684 on: August 17, 2007, 08:49:51 AM »

calling it "corn...misrepresent what was growing according to Genesis.

A pal of mine who is big on the idea that Vikings ''discovered'' America showed me a photo of a 12th or 13th century church building in which corn was used as a decoration on its outdoor walls.  I do not recall the precise building but it proved to him that Vikings were here well before Columbus and before the King James Version of the Bible was created.
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thanatopsy
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« Reply #685 on: August 17, 2007, 08:55:56 AM »

With so many here of the opinion that Menzies book is a farce, I don't see how any discussion can occur.  Thus, I excuse myself.

Quite the contrary, the book should provide each of us with a good challenge in order to ferret out the obvious errors and to set the historical record straight.

Just consider those questions I posed above --- I am certain that readers will pose even better questions and prove the point that Menzies is clearly incorrect.  After all, as students of history, none of us are obligated to blindly accept anyone's ideas.  In fact, it is our obligation to question. 

This book presents an excellent opportunity for you to do so.
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weezo
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« Reply #686 on: August 17, 2007, 09:38:35 AM »

Re: Corn. I too have read that the term corn was used as a general word for grain. The Indians did not call it corn, they called it Maize. If corn, which is native to America, was grown in the time of Genesis, how did it get there? And, why then would it be considered native to America? I'm not sure that one can use one speculative history to prove or disprove another speculative history.

Nonetheless, I agree that the book is worthy of reading and discussing to ferret out what grains of truth are there among the conjectures.

I have read from other sources, that there is both DNA and other indicators of Chinese presence on the West Coast of America. If Menzies knowledge of ocean currents is trustworthy, and as a navigator, I would tend to presume it is, then it is likely that the Chinese would have journeyed to Australia and the West Coast of the Americas. Perhaps not just on Gheng He's voyage, or certainly not the first time at that time, but perhaps over the centuries of Chinese exploration. I am not familiar with Chinese history so have no idea if there is mention of anything that could be the American continent in their travels.

As to the east coast, I am not convinced that the Chinese expeditions reached there. In their explorations of the east coast, the completely missed the Chesapeake Bay which is considerably larger that either the Delaware or Hudson Bays. He asserts that the Melungeons are of Chinese origin whereas recent explorations in their heritage seems confirmed to be Portuguese sailers. I believe there is DNA backing for that. It is telling that Menzies was unable to convince the Melungeons to have their DNA tested for Chinese heritage, but they have been willing to have it tested for the Portuguese heritage, which is part of their oral history.

I like the theory proposed by Farley Mowat that the Albans were the first Europeans to settle in Canada. It seems likely that these people of what later became Scot origins were driven ahead of the Norsemen in finding new homes in the Artic region. It seems to me that Mowat presents a better case that the stone structures in Canada are of Alban origin, and were roofed with upturned boats, than that they were built by the Chinese and roofed with timbers from boats. The evidence of wooden roofing is not confirmed with Mowat's studies of the stone foundations. Further, Mowat puts the date of these settlements centuries before Menzie's voyage by the Chinese.

It is also a conundrum on how the seas could be lower when the Chinese visited the Atlantic islands, but the same year, the Artic ice was melted enough to allow them to sail around Greenland and perhaps visit the North Pole. If the earth was so warm as to melt the Artic ice, then the seas would have been higher, not lower.

If I were still teaching, and if I were teaching the very bright/gifted/TAG students, this is a book I would use in class to help students ferret out the grains of truth from the unsupported conjecture. It would be a fine way to help students learn to make decision on what they read.

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caclark
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« Reply #687 on: August 17, 2007, 10:33:25 AM »

I just learned through more googling that in his book 1421, Menzies falsely claimed to have been born in China. When after publication it came out that he was born in London and had misled the public on that, he admitted to doing so but has not corrected it in recent editions of 1421. That is one more obstacle to me taking seriously anything he has to say on anything.

Yet a discussion of Menzies might be useful on the hazards of popular reading dressed up as scholarship in an era of mass communication. Menzies may even have stumbled onto something that might be a challenge to a responsible historian to pick up on.

So read away and discuss too. Like anyone, I have my biases and standards. But I’ll be the last man to tell other people what they should or should not read.
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madupont
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« Reply #688 on: August 17, 2007, 10:33:38 AM »

Bob

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/18/business/17cnd-fed.html?hp

In Surprise Move, Fed Cuts Key Rate
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Dzimas
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« Reply #689 on: August 17, 2007, 11:00:41 AM »

I'm not sure I want to bother myself with Menzies at this point, even though I have the book and had been meaning to read it.  Seems he works on the basis of evidence as Thor Hyerdahl did on his Ra and Kon Tiki voyages.  If it sounds good, go for it!
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