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The Island of Seven Cities Where the Chinese Settled When They Discovered America

Paul Chiasson

St. Martin's Griffin

0312362056

9780312362058

Trade Paperback

384 Pages

$19.99

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In 2003, Paul Chiasson climbed a mountain he never explored on the island where he grew up. Cape Breton, one of the oldest points of exploration in the Americas, is littered with remnants of old settlements. The road he found that day was unique. Consistently wide and formerly bordered with stone walls, the road had been a major undertaking. For the next two years, he surveyed the history of Europeans in North America, and came to a stunning conclusion: The ruins he came upon did not belong to the Portuguese, French, or English and pre-dated John Cabot's "discovery" of the island in 1497. With aerial and site photographs, maps, drawings and his expertise in the history of architecture, Chiasson pieces together clues to one of the world's great mysteries. The Island of Seven Cities reveals the existence of a large Chinese colony that thrived on Canadian shores well before the European Age of Discovery and unveils the first tangible proof that the Chinese were in the New World before Columbus.

REVIEWS

Praise for The Island of Seven Cities

"A groundbreaking new book . . . This is exemplary historical reporting that is compelling, powerful and stimulating."—The Tuscon Citizen
 
"Paul Chiasson's The Island of Seven Cities is riveting, beautifully written, powerful and compelling."—Gavin Menzies, author of 1421: The Year China Discovered America
 
"A model for others to follow."—Betty Meggers
 
“In contrast to its epic title, this is a personal account of the author's own research into a stone road he found on his native Cape Breton Island, Canada. Chiasson, an architect, was driven by intellectual curiosity, his family's Acadian ancestry, and his awareness that he was living with HIV and might not have the time or energy to complete the project. Writing in a modest style, he describes his research into early sources (500 years of maps and written records), his visits to the stone road and ruins on the mountaintop of Cape Dauphin, and aerial photography, all leading him to the conclusion that the ruins are those of a Chinese settlement established during the Ming dynasty in the early 15th century, well ahead of John Cabot's European discovery of the island in 1497. He posits that the Chinese may have been in search of coal or gold. Realizing the magnitude of his hypothesis, he reviews his evidence again and again, comparing similarities in culture between Cape Breton's indigenous Mi'kmaq and the Chinese, highlighting the architectural features of the ruins, and identifying Cape Breton Island with the fabled Island of Seven Cities, supposedly inhabited and predating Columbus and Cabot. Finally, he met with Gavin Menzies, [author of] 1421: The Year China Discovered America, who visited the site and concurred with Chiasson that it was a pre-European Chinese settlement. It remains for archaeologists and experts in Chinese history and culture to validate Chiasson's findings, but the book stands as a fascinating piece of historical detective work. Essential for readers of 1421, whatever their beliefs, and for lay readers in general.”—Library Journal

Reviews from Goodreads

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BOOK EXCERPTS

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PAUL CHIASSON, a Yale-educated architect with a specialty in the history and theory of religious architechture has taught at Yale, the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. and the University of Toronto. He lives in Toronto.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Paul Chiasson

  • Paul Chiasson, a Yale-educated architect with a specialty in the history and theory of religious architechture has taught at Yale, the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. and the University of Toronto. He lives in Toronto.
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