Amerigo: The Man Who Gave His Name to America

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9780297848028: Amerigo: The Man Who Gave His Name to America
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In 1507 cartographers in Europe, struggling to redraw their map of the world to accommodate new discoveries, decided on a name for the western hemisphere. They called it 'America' after Amerigo Vespucci, a Florentine explorer who was obscure at the time and has remained so ever since. Quibbles about whether he deserved to have America named after him have dominated the literature. But Amerigo the man-his life, his mind, his character, his relationships, his ambitions and inhibitions-has never inspired a serious, critical biography. Until now.


Felipe Fernandez-Armesto gives us a credible flesh-and-blood Vespucci. We see Amerigo for what he really was: a sometime pimp and small-time jewel-trader, who practised magic and attained the 'fame and honour' he sought through a series of disastrous failures and amazing self-reinventions. Amerigo's genius for makeovers makes him a suitably mercurial hero for our times. But lies, evasions, outrageous fantasies and monumental misjudgements strew his career.


Fernandez-Armesto pilots us through the evidence with scholarly caution, disciplined imagination and well-informed insights. We follow Amerigo from the Florence of Lorenzo de'Medici, to the Seville of Ferdinand and Isabella, across the Atlantic of Columbus, to his encounters with the brave New World beyond the ocean. Salesman, sorcerer and ruthless borrower of others' experiences, Vespucci emerges from this book, still elusive-as dodgy as in the Florentine demi-monde of his youth-but intimately knowable for the first time.

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From the Inside Flap:

From food to the spread of political ideas, the landmass from northern Canada to the southern tip of Argentina is complexly bound together, yet these connections are generally ignored. In this groundbreaking and vividly rendered work, leading historian Felipe Fernandez-Armesto tells, for the first time, the story of our hemisphere as a whole, showing why it is impossible to understand North, Central, and South America in isolation, and looking instead to the intricate and common forces that continue to shape the region.
With his trademark erudition, imagination, and thematic breadth, Fernandez-Armesto ranges over commerce, religion, agriculture, the environment, the slave trade, culture, and politics. He takes us from man's arrival in North America to the Colonial and Independence periods, to the "American Century" and beyond. For most of human history, the south dominated the north: as Fernandez-Armesto argues in his provocative conclusion, it might well again.
A panoramic yet richly textured story that embodies fresh ways of looking at cross-cultural exchange, conflict, and interaction, The Americas demolishes our traditional ways of looking at the hemisphere, putting in place a compelling and fruitful new vision.

"From the Hardcover edition.

About the Author:

Felipe Fernandez-Armesto is known for his wide-ranging and provocative global history. He was previously Professor of History at Queen Mary College, London and he is currently Professor of Spanish History at Tufts University, Boston.

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9780812972986: Amerigo: The Man Who Gave His Name to America

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ISBN 10:  0812972988 ISBN 13:  9780812972986
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Book Description Weidenfeld, 2006. Condition: New. European cartographers of the early 16th century struggled to find names for the growing number of newly discovered lands, and they used an obscure traveller from Florence, Amerigo Vespucci, for the new continent in the far west. In this first ever serious biography of the man, Fernandez-Armesto reveals that far from being a straightforward hero-explorer, Vespucci was in fact a one-time pimp, small-time jewel trader, and generally shady inhabitant of the Florentine underworld, who was, however, adept at self-invention and promotion. Seller Inventory # 258791

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