Catalogue


When China ruled the seas: the treasure fleet of the Dragon Throne, 1405-1433 /
Louise Levathes.
imprint
New York : Oxford University Press, 1996.
description
252 p. : ill., maps ; 23 cm.
ISBN
0195112075
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
New York : Oxford University Press, 1996.
isbn
0195112075
catalogue key
5843040
 
Includes bibliographical references (p.[205]-231) and index.
A Look Inside
Reviews
Review Quotes
"A fascinating chapter in seafaring history carefullyrecounted....Levathes has done welcome work in pulling together documents fromChinese archives and African and Indian sources to piece together a story thatsubsequent [Chinese] governments strove to obliterate from memory. You are notlikely to read about it anywhere else."--Anchorage Daily News
"A lively, interesting and highly readable account of a time when 'Chinacould have become the great colonial power, a hundred years before the great ageof European exploration and expansion."--Far Eastern Economic Review
"A provocative book that fires the imagination."--Los Angeles DailyNews
"A provocative book that fires the imagination."--Los Angeles Daily News
"A well-written and thought provoking book, When China Ruled the Seas willappeal to the scholar and the layperson." Medium, April 7, 1997
"A well-written and thought provoking book, When China Ruled the Seas will appeal to the scholar and the layperson." Medium, April 7, 1997
Both an eloquent and smooth sail through history, and a reminder the China should have been the world's great imperial power; a glimpse into a shrouded past, and a journey that is astonishing and fun.
"Good illustrations, detailed description of historical events."--Shaojie Jiang, Concordia University
Levathes' book brings China's maritime history together in a most readablenarrative."--Naples Daily News
"Levathes' book brings China's maritime history together in a most readable narrative."--Naples Daily News
"Levathes tells her story in a lively style, and details her sourcesmeticulously in extensive notes."--The New York Times Book Review
"Levathes tells her story in a lively style, and details her sources meticulously in extensive notes."--The New York Times Book Review
"Levathes tells her story in a lively style, and details her sources meticulously."--The New York Times Book Review "A lively, interesting and highly readable account."--Far Eastern Economic Review
"Levathes writes history in the praise worthy tradition of BarbaraTuchman....Highly recommended."--Library Journal
"Levathes writes history in the praise worthy tradition of Barbara Tuchman....Highly recommended."--Library Journal
"Levathes writes popular history and therefore sprinkles her text withscene-setting and little digressions into everyday life in Ming China."--KirkusReviews
"Meticulously researched."--The New York Times
"Obviously she put a lot of work into this book. Moreover, it is well written and sure to interest the students."--Roger Jeans, Washington and Lee University
"Provides fascinating glimpses into China's regional and far-flung tradingpartners over a period of many centuries."--Asian Wall Street Journal
"Provides fascinating glimpses into China's regional and far-flung trading partners over a period of many centuries."--Asian Wall Street Journal
"Taking the maritime story as her main theme, Levathes presents afascinating picture of political and court life during the first several reignsof the Ming, all based on primary sources and the most recent research....Thestory Levathes tells so skillfully could scarcely be more timely."--TheWashington Post
"Taking the maritime story as her main theme, Levathes presents a fascinating picture of political and court life during the first several reigns of the Ming, all based on primary sources and the most recent research....The story Levathes tells so skillfully could scarcely be moretimely."--The Washington Post
Taking the maritime story as her main theme, Levathes presents a fascinating picture of political and court life during the first several reigns of the Ming ... The story Levathes tells so skillfully could scarcely be more timely.
"This is an engaging, readable...work. It is a book for the general reader and contains a great deal of information not found elsewhere."--Asian Thought and Society: An International Review
"This is an engaging, readable...work. It is a book for the general reader and contains a great deal of information not found elsewhere."--Asian Thought and Society: An International Review"Obviously she put a lot of work into this book. Moreover, it is well written and sure to interest the students."--Roger Jeans, Washington and Lee University"Good illustrations, detailed description of historical events."--Shaojie Jiang, Concordia University"Levathes' book brings China's maritime history together in a most readable narrative."--Naples Daily News"Levathes tells her story in a lively style, and details her sources meticulously in extensive notes."--The New York Times Book Review"Meticulously researched."--The New York Times"A provocative book that fires the imagination."--Los Angeles Daily News"Taking the maritime story as her main theme, Levathes presents a fascinating picture of political and court life during the first several reigns of the Ming, all based on primary sources and the most recent research....The story Levathes tells so skillfully could scarcely be more timely."--The Washington Post"Levathes writes history in the praise worthy tradition of Barbara Tuchman....Highly recommended."--Library Journal"Provides fascinating glimpses into China's regional and far-flung trading partners over a period of many centuries."--Asian Wall Street Journal"Levathes writes popular history and therefore sprinkles her text with scene-setting and little digressions into everyday life in Ming China."--Kirkus Reviews"A lively, interesting and highly readable account of a time when 'China could have become the great colonial power, a hundred years before the great age of European exploration and expansion."--Far Eastern Economic Review"A fascinating chapter in seafaring history carefully recounted....Levathes has done welcome work in pulling together documents from Chinese archives and African and Indian sources to piece together a story that subsequent [Chinese] governments strove to obliterate from memory. You are not likely to read about it anywhere else."--Anchorage Daily News"Both an eloquent and smooth sail through history, and a reminder the China should have been the world's great imperial power; a glimpse into a shrouded past, and a journey that is astonishing and fun."--Ken Auletta"An important piece of work--the most straightforward and accessible account of the Zheng He expeditions."--John E. Wills, Jr., Director, East Asian Studies Center, University of Southern California"Highly informative, well-researched. Portrays a critical episode in China's history, and its long-term consequences."--Anthony P. DiPerna, Molloy College, NY
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Bowker Data Service Summary
Drawing on eye-witness accounts, official Ming histories, and African, Arab and Indian sources, this book sheds new light on the historical and cultural context in which China's early-15th century treasure fleet flourished.
Long Description
A hundred years before Columbus and his fellow Europeans began making their way to the New World, fleets of giant Chinese junks commanded by the eunuch admiral Zheng He and filled with the empire's finest porcelains, lacquerware, and silk ventured to the edge of the world's 'four corners.' It was a time of exploration and conquest, but it ended in a retrenchment so complete that less than a century later, it was a crime to go to sea in a multimasted ship. In When China Ruled the Seas, Louise Levathes takes a fascinating and unprecedented look at this dynamic period in China's enigmatic history, focusing on China's rise as a naval power that literally could have ruled the world and at its precipitious plunge into isolation when a new emperor ascended the Dragon Throne. During the brief period from 1405 to 1433, seven epic expeditions brought China's 'treasure ships' across the China Seas and the Indian Ocean, from Taiwan to the spice islands of Indonesia and the Malabar coast of India, on to the rich ports of the Persian Gulf and down the African coast, China's 'El Dorado', and perhaps even to Australia, three hundred years before Captain Cook was credited with its discovery. With over 300 ships - some measuring as much as 400 feet long and 160 feet wide, with upwards of nine masts and twelve sails, and combined crews sometimes numbering over 28,000 men - the emperor Zhu Di's fantastic fleet was a virtual floating city, a naval expression of his Forbidden City in Beijing. The largest wooden boats ever built, these extraordinary ships were the most technically superior vessels in the world with innovations such as balanced rudders and bulwarked compartments that predated European ships by centuries. For thirty years foreign goods, medicines, geographic knowledge, and cultural insights flowed into China at an extraordinary rate, and China extended its sphere of political power and influence throughout the Indian Ocean. Half the world was in China's grasp, and the rest could easily have been, had the emperor so wished. But instead, China turned inward, as suceeding emperors forbade overseas travel and stopped all building and repair of oceangoing junks. Disobedient merchants and seamen were killed, and within a hundred years the greatest navy the world had ever known willed itself into extinction. The period of China's greatest outward expansion was followed by the period of its greatest isolation. Drawing on eye-witness accounts, official Ming histories, and African, Arab, and Indian sources, many translated for the first time, Levathes brings readers inside China's most illustrious scientific and technological era. She sheds new light on the historical and cultural context in ghich this great civilization thrived, as well as the perception of other cultures toward this little understood empire at the time. Beautifully illustrated and engagingly written, When China Ruled the Seas is the fullest picture yet of the early Ming Dynasty - the last flowering of Chinese culture before the Manchu invasions.
Main Description
A hundred years before Columbus and his fellow Europeans began making their way to the New World, fleets of giant Chinese junks commanded by the eunuch admiral Zheng He and filled with the empire's finest porcelains, lacquerware, and silk ventured to the edge of the world's "four corners." Itwas a time of exploration and conquest, but it ended in a retrenchment so complete that less than a century later, it was a crime to go to sea in a multimasted ship. In When China Ruled the Seas, Louise Levathes takes a fascinating and unprecedented look at this dynamic period in China's enigmatichistory, focusing on China's rise as a naval power that literally could have ruled the world and at its precipitious plunge into isolation when a new emperor ascended the Dragon Throne. During the brief period from 1405 to 1433, seven epic expeditions brought China's "treasure ships" across the China Seas and the Indian Ocean, from Taiwan to the spice islands of Indonesia and the Malabar coast of India, on to the rich ports of the Persian Gulf and down the African coast,China's "El Dorado," and perhaps even to Australia, three hundred years before Captain Cook was credited with its discovery. With over 300 ships--some measuring as much as 400 feet long and 160 feet wide, with upwards of nine masts and twelve sails, and combined crews sometimes numbering over 28,000men--the emperor Zhu Di's fantastic fleet was a virtual floating city, a naval expression of his Forbidden City in Beijing. The largest wooden boats ever built, these extraordinary ships were the most technically superior vessels in the world with innovations such as balanced rudders and bulwarkedcompartments that predated European ships by centuries. For thirty years foreign goods, medicines, geographic knowledge, and cultural insights flowed into China at an extraordinary rate, and China extended its sphere of political power and influence throughout the Indian Ocean. Half the world was inChina's grasp, and the rest could easily have been, had the emperor so wished. But instead, China turned inward, as suceeding emperors forbade overseas travel and stopped all building and repair of oceangoing junks. Disobedient merchants and seamen were killed, and within a hundred years thegreatest navy the world had ever known willed itself into extinction. The period of China's greatest outward expansion was followed by the period of its greatest isolation. Drawing on eye-witness accounts, official Ming histories, and African, Arab, and Indian sources, many translated for the first time, Levathes brings readers inside China's most illustrious scientific and technological era. She sheds new light on the historical and cultural context in which thisgreat civilization thrived, as well as the perception of other cultures toward this little understood empire at the time. Beautifully illustrated and engagingly written, When China Ruled the Seas is the fullest picture yet of the early Ming Dynasty--the last flowering of Chinese culture before theManchu invasions.
Main Description
This fascinating book takes an unprecedented look at the dynamic period in China's history--a hundred years before Columbus and his fellow Europeans began making their way to the New World--focusing on China's rise as a naval power that literally could have ruled the world. A 1994 New York Times Notable Book of the Year. 12 halftone illustrations. 21 linecuts.

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