The Origins of the Lost Fleet of the Mongol Empire
By Randall James Sasaki
Published in February 2015
Thibault’s Score: 1/5
I like technically detailed books. But sometimes, too much is too much.
Yuan Sino-Mongol emperor Kublai Khan attempted several naval invasions of China. His army consisted of Mongols, Koreans, Chinese, and Muslim forces from every corner of the known world. Each time Kublai Khan’s armies attempted to attack China they faced serious military defeats on land. During these invasions, many ships were sunken and destroyed.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, underwater archeologists began the painstaking process of excavating and conserving the remains of Kublai Khan’s fleet. Randall James Sasaki, the Japanese-American author of this book, is one of the underwater archaeologist who excavated
This book was a bit of a wasted opportunity. Sasaki concludes that the archeological finds are not particularly important. The conclusion is fine, however the book still could have been more interesting.
For example, I would have loved to hear more about Sasaki’s individual experience as an underwater archeologist. He does devote some space to it, but I thought that there could have been more. I would have loved to hear about the team, the dangers of the trade (if any), issues they faced, etc…
Reading about the process of sorting through the recovered debris was interesting, but boringly written. Most of the archeology consists of sorting and classifying the wooden debris of the Yuan ships. Among the debris several objects and remains of objects were also found. They reflect the utilitarian military nature of the expedition, as they are all ornamented. Their diversity also reveals the multicultural nature of the expedition.
This book may literally be the most boring history book I have read since I started this blog. The tragedy is that the topic is fascinating.
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