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Amerigo: The Man Who Gave His Name to America Europe Portugal Felipe Fernandez-Armesto Random House Trade Paperbacks Reprint edition

30th November 2011 History Books 0 Comments

Starred Review. In a dazzling new biography, noted historian Fernández-Armesto (Columbus) captures the exploits of the now mostly forgotten adventurer for whom the New World was named—a man the author characterizes as a self-promoter lacking in talent and accomplishment. Born into a Florentine family, the young Amerigo Vespucci (1454–1512) entered the seagoing life to make his fortune; his earliest expeditions were in search of pearls. As a result of his later voyages, however, Vespucci presented himself as a celestial navigator and master of the art of reading latitude and even longitude. As Fernández-Armesto points out, Vespucci’s own accounts of his voyages were largely colored by his readings, so that he exaggerated the physical beauty of the new worlds and the new peoples he encountered, and he promoted himself as an expert in cosmography when his skills were far more modest. Although Vespucci claimed to have navigated beyond the Pole Star and to have measured longitude by lunar distances, Fernández-Armesto shows that these claims were false. But Vespucci promoted himself so well that mapmakers in 1507 chose to name America after him. Fernández-Armesto weaves an elegant tale of Vespucci’s ability to transform himself from a merchant into an explorer and conqueror of new worlds. (Aug. 7)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. –This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

*Starred Review* An outstanding historian of Atlantic exploration, Fernndez-Armesto delves into the oddities of cultural transmission that attached the name America to the continents discovered in the 1490s. Most know that it honors Amerigo Vespucci, whom the author introduces as an amazing Renaissance character independent of his name’s fameand does Fernndez-Armesto ever deliver. Pimp, flimflam man, diplomat, business agent, and inventive writer, Vespucci’s many guises spring from his record of failing at one thing and moving on to the next. A Florentine, he performed government functions for the Medici, apparently not well enough for promotion but good enough to maintain correspondence when Vespucci decamped for Seville and entered the orbit of Columbus. Vespucci’s letters and travel writings about his several voyages to the New World became his brief to be an explorer, but Vespucci’s authorship is contested, informs Fernndez-Armesto, who analyzes the scholarly controversy with clarity. In 1507 one of the writings that Fernndez-Armesto regards as bogus reached gullible geographers in the landlocked duchy of Lorraine, of all places; they added “America” to their world map, which became popular. On such contingencies was the permanence of America’s name achieved, a story brightly animated by Fernndez-Armesto’s biography. Taylor, Gilbert –This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

In Amerigo, the award-winning scholar Felipe Fernndez-Armesto answers the question Whats in a name? by delivering a rousing flesh-and-blood narrative of the life and times of Amerigo Vespucci. Here we meet Amerigo as he really was: a rogue and raconteur who counted Christopher Columbus among his friends and rivals; an amateur sorcerer who attained fame and honor through a series of disastrous failures and equally grand self-reinventions. Filled with well-informed insights and amazing anecdotes, this magisterial and compulsively readable account sweeps readers from Medicean Florence to the Sevillian court of Ferdinand and Isabella, then across the Atlantic of Columbus to the brave New World where fortune favored the bold.

Amerigo Vespucci emerges from these pages as an irresistible avatar for the age of explorationand as a man of genuine achievement as a voyager and chronicler of discovery. And now, in Amerigo, this mercurial and elusive figure finally has a biography to do full justice to both the man and his remarkable era.

Praise for Amerigo:

Wonderfully idiosyncratic and intelligent.
The New York Times Book Review

Fascinating . . . [Fernndez-Armestos] lively style is effective in evoking the flashy and violent world of Renaissance Europe.
The Washington Post Book World

An outstanding historian . . . [Fernndez-Armesto] introduces Amerigo Vespucci as an amazing Renaissance character independent of his names fameand does Fernndez-Armesto ever deliver.
Booklist (starred review)

Dazzling . . . an elegant tale of Vespuccis ability to transform himself from a merchant into an explorer and conqueror of new worlds.
Publishers Weekly (starred review)


Amerigo: The Man Who Gave His Name to America

Civilization of Europe in the Renaissance

Hale describes the end of “Christendom” and the beginning of a new understanding of the terms “Europe” and “European” during the period 1450-1620. He stresses the 16th and early 17th centuries, rather than 15th-century Italy, and is concerned not only with the “new age” of learning but with the characteristics of daily life among Europeans and the roots of contemporary Europe and its culture.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Exploring every aspect of art, philosophy, politics, life and culture between 1450 and 1620, this enthralling panorama examines one of the most fascinating and exciting periods in European history. “A rich, dense book which combines inspiring generalizations with idiosyncratic detail” -The Spectator. Photos.

Civilization of Europe in the Renaissance

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