Date: October 06, 2010 10:31AM
As "rt" notes in his edit, Gavin Menzies is a retired sailor with no background in history, archaeology, or anthropology, and he has more in common with the likes of Eric Von Däniken (or Rodney Meldrum) than individuals with any genuine credibility.
I went with the reviews of Mann's work (my copy of Diamond is dog-eared) since I don't plan on reading it anytime soon, and nothing I came across changed my mind. I have been researching the issues he presented for a number of years (because of the relevance to Mormon claims, particularly John L. Sorenson, about Native Americans) and since Mann is a journalist, I feel qualified to compare his "synthesis" with my own (By contrast, Diamond is a scientist, a physiologist, whose works on anthropology have been published in peer-reviewed journals).
My view is that Mann is "too much of a romantic" and far too attracted to "fads" (which, I suppose, have commercial appeal); he writes for the Altantic Monthly, which carried the "diffusionists claims" (Sorenson was one, and such folks are generally dismissed by mainstream sorts; having reviewed Sorenson's nonsense extensively and posted one archived review on this site, I can tell you his crediblity is on par with Menzies).
One "fad" is to insist on much earlier migration dates from Asia than the geological studies of the Bering land bridge would permit; those would require boats and a maritime technology, a concept I find difficult to reconcile with the Arctic environment in the North seas at the time, particulary for ocean crossings (the Eskimo culture was a latecomer according to Diamond).
I can also see no logic in the use of watercraft for the so-called "coastal migration" hypothesis, which doesn't rest on any archaeological finds or evidence but rather on supposed claims that the evidence is underwater, having been covered up by rising ocean levels at the end of the Ice Age.
Too, his claims of population figures in the New World strike me as equally absurd; such numbers would require the sort of food production hunter-gatherers are incapable of providing, and while Native American advances in plant hybridizaiton are remarkable, I don't believe the technology existed on the level he imagines.
Finally, I think he wrote a book in part geared toward "millenial thinkers" with his overly romantic analysis of Mayan mathematics (folks are discussing that "2012" stuff seriously, unfortanately). Again, the achievements were remarkable, but they did not spread beyond their "limited geography" (sorry about that!) in Central America, and their impact was minimal.