AMERIGO AND THE NEW WORLD by German Arciniegas


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In scholarly terms, and based on Arciniegas' deep interest in his subject, this clears Amerigo Vespucci's name of the stigma of social thief- as the man who stole Columbus' fire by publicizing the new world in such a way that it was named for him. It is a painstaking study, and the first chapters tell of Amerigo's youth in Florence, the social and cultural background of his family which reflected that of the city. The Vespucci were respected and well off; one uncle gave him a fine education; another, a Medici ambassador, took him to Paris; still later he was to go to Seville where he eventually handled Columbus' affairs. After this close contact with the first voyages of discovery, Vespucci began to dream of the day when he would go himself. He made several voyages combining trade with observations which led to the determination of the great land mass of South America beyond the Caribbean islands Columbus saw. His accounts were the enthusiastic ones of a man who was a widely interested optimist, different in character from Columbus whose singleminded ambition filled his actions with a certain stark despair. It was natural then that when Vespucci returned, his accounts and maps were the more widely circulated and became the basis of future knowledge. A valuable study, and Arciniegas has already established a certain following with his other books on South America.

Publisher: Knopf