AMERIGO: A Comedy of Errors in History by Stefan Zweig

AMERIGO: A Comedy of Errors in History

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An odd bit of erudition to launch at this particular moment. Strange that it has not been expanded to some length before now, for here is a story of real moment to the history of America, slighted, misinterpreted, ignored in our histories. It is the story of Amerigo Vespucci, and how America was named. It is a survey of the sources of information and misinformation, chronologically laid forth as the civilized world discovered them, with a neat fitting facts to their place and showing how a succession of minor accidents resulted in pinning the glory of a continent on a comparatively unimportant explorer. A printer in the Vosges, a provincial geographer, a publisher seizing the psychological moment for issuing a dubious report of 32 pages -- and the trick was done. The pendulum swung away from Columbus in the 16th century; by the 17th century Vespu was labelled a swindler, by the 18th he was accepted as innocent of the fraud.

Publisher: Viking