In 1279, off China’s southeast coast, Khubilai Khan routed the Song navy and completed the grand dream of his grandfather, Genghis Khan—the conquest of China. The Grand Khan now ruled the largest empire the world had ever seen, stretching from the China Sea to the plains of Hungary. Having also inadvertently inherited the world’s largest navy—more than seven hundred ships—the Mongols began audacious attacks on Japan, Vietnam and Java. Yet within fifteen years, Khubilai had squandered his massive fleet, and the Mongols were a spent maritime force.
Considered for centuries to be little more than legend, the story of the Mongols’ fleet has finally been confirmed. Renowned archaeologist and historian James P. Delgado has dived with the Japanese team studying the remains of the Khan’s lost fleet at Takashima. Using original sources as diverse as actual sunken ships, land excavations, temple inscriptions, hand-painted scrolls and historical and literary records from China, Japan and Vietnam, Delgado takes the reader on an exciting history of Khubilai Khan’s great Mongol navy, whose rise and fall presaged the great fleets of the fifteenth-century Ming Dynasty, made famous in the best-seller 1421.