Tuesday, October 24, 2006

New Books - Amerigo / The Americas

Felipe Fernandez-Armesto
The Americas: the history of a hemisphere
Phoenix, 2003, 970 FER

Felipe Fernandez-Armesto
Amerigo: the man who gave his name to America
Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2006, 970.01 FER

Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, who presented an
RSA lecture at the 2006 Edinburgh International Book Festival, is Professor of Global Environmental History at Queen Mary, University of London, and a member of the Faculty of Modern History at Oxford University. Whether in an entertaining biography of Vespucci Amerigo, the man after whom the American Continents were named, or in a biography of the continents themselves, Fernandez-Armesto is an evocative writer of history who manages to balance intellectual interrogation with a compelling style that appeals to a mass readership .

‘The Americas’ - 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 Fernández-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, Fernández-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 Fernández-Armesto argues in his provocative conclusion, it might well again.

‘Amerigo’ – In 1507 the cartographer Martin Waldseemuller published a world map with a new continent on it which he called America', after the explorer and navigator Amerigo Vespucci. The map was a phenomenal success and when Mercator's 1538 world map extended the name to the northern hemisphere of the continent, the new name was secure, even though Waldseemuller himself soon realised he had picked the wrong man. This is the story of how one side of the world came to be named not after its discoverer Christopher Columbus, but after his friend and rival Amerigo Vespucci.

Read a Felipe
Fernandez-Armesto interview with TMCQ.

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