Book Review: "The Island of Seven Cities"
'THE ISLAND OF SEVEN CITIES: WHERE THE CHINESE SETTLED WHEN THEY DISCOVERED AMERICA'
By Paul Chiasson (St. Martin's Press, $25.95)
A groundbreaking new book serves up a fascinating new possibility that America wasn't discovered by Columbus in 1492, but rather by a Chinese explorer named Zheng, and several decades before the Italian explorer. If this can be proved, it will, of course, change the way we teach American history in this country.
Chiasson, a Yale-educated architect with a specialty in the history and theory of religious architecture, has written a gripping account of what could be an earth-shaking discovery.
During the summer of 2002, Chiasson decided to climb a mountain on Cape Breton Island, an area in Canada littered with old settlements and artifacts. As Chiasson explored, he found an unusual road and scattered ruins near the top of the mountain that predated John Cabot's 1497 "discovery" of the island and that were not related to the Portuguese, the French, the English or the Scots. Using aerial and site photographs, maps, drawings and his expertise as an architect, Chiasson pieced together clues to conclude that he had, in fact, discovered the remains of a large Chinese colony that had thrived on the Canadian shores well before the European Age of Discovery.
Although there are still questions to be answered, Chiasson is convinced his discovery will revise our history and our understanding of America's origins. This is exemplary historical reporting that is compelling, powerful and stimulating.
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