1939: The Year Brazil Landed on the Moon
Relying on third-hand oral tradition, some drawings in dirt with a stick, and a rock that a Santeria priest says is a piece of the moon, or “space-stone,” Menzies demonstrates that Armstrong, Aldrin, and the rest merely took a giant leap into the footsteps of the intrepid Brazilians. Lab tests as to the rock’s origins were inconclusive, but Menzies says that just proves his case. “Since the lab couldn’t identify it, the rock certainly must be from the moon,” he writes.
1879: The Year Sicily Invented the Microchip
“Silicon,” Menzies asserts, is a perverse Anglicization of “Sicily.” “The stuff grows like a weed on the slopes of Mt. Etna,” he reports.
There’s something for everyone here, including the conspiracy theorist: Gen. George S. Patton’s belligerent insistence on conquering Messina before Britain’s Montgomery could get there during World War II was just a shield for an American plan to keep knowledge of Sicily’s achievement a secret from the rest of the world. “A little birdie told me,” says Menzies.
1789: The French Revolution Wasn’t Really French
Drawing chiefly on his own expertise as a connoisseur of vin de pays and his sister’s recipe for risotto, which has a lovely tangy flavor he can’t quite place but that goes nicely with the tarragon, Gavin Menzies contends that this whole business about the “French” Revolution “is, like, totally a sham. It’s so obviously Portugese!” “Liberté, egalité, and fraternité aren’t even French words,” Menzies boldly declares. “The Academie Francaise refused to rebut my findings, which just goes to prove that they can’t deny it.”
In an appendix for the American version of the book, apparently deemed too astonishing by its original, English publishers, Menzies adds that the British Isles aren’t really islands at all, but “tracts of land not as large as a continent, surrounded by water.”
250 B.C.: Hannibal Discovers Electricity
And here we were all along, thinking all that Carthage had to offer posterity were some cool ruins and a story about some elephants. Turns out the early North Africans were grievously underestimated: Menzies says he has been to apartments in Tunis that are equipped with televisions and stereo equipment, that the number 250 times 7 (“more or less”) equals 1752, the year Benjamin Franklin “‘claims’ he ‘discovered’ ‘electricity,’” and that 7 is Menzies’ lucky number. So despite the minor inconvenience of his not having been alive in 250 B.C., Hannibal must have discovered electricity. Q.E.D.
1621: That Was No Apple, It Was More Like a Dolma
Joining forces with David Hockney, who recently posited that “Old Master” painters used optical devices to achieve their stunningly accurate representation, despite there not being a single word of such a technique in the historical record, nor a tradition of its being passed from painter to student like all their other techniques, Gavin Menzies asserts that it wasn’t Newton at all who wrote Principia Mathematica, but Mohammed. Yes, that Mohammed! When he wasn’t busy taking dictation from God in a cave on the Arabian peninsula, the busy prophet was coming up with the three laws of thermodynamics. Neither Menzies nor Hockney can remember exactly what those are at the moment, but they’ll get back to you.
1844: The Year Native Americans Discovered Europe
Abandoning his prior assertions that China discovered America, and that Europe soon followed, Menzies describes his recent discovery of patterns in ancient bison pelts which are “incontrovertible evidence” that neither Europeans nor Asians made it, in his words, “to the place we now know as ‘North America’ — which is really just a social construct, anyway, I mean, let’s face it — until after a small band of Cherokee lesbians in canoes reached the shores of Ireland in 1844.” Unfortunately they all immediately caught smallpox and died, which is why we have never heard their story until now. But a one-legged blacksmith named Perry knew the intrepid Cherokee women, managed not to catch smallpox from them, came to America, and never was heard from again. “Except,” writes Menzies, “for the satellite transmission Perry made from his Lower East Side tenement to the Dakotas, where it was inscribed for eternity in the buffalo pelts.” Menzies found the pelts at an antique store in Bergen County. “They were marked down,” he recalls.