Amerigo: The Man Who Gave His Name to America by Felipe Fernández-Armesto

By Felipe Fernández-Armesto

In 1507, the cartographer Martin Waldseemuller released a global map with a brand new continent on it which he referred to as "America," after the explorer and navigator Amerigo Vespucci. The map used to be an attractive luck and while Mercator`s 1538 global map prolonged the identify to the northern hemisphere of the continent, the recent identify used to be safe. yet Waldseemuller quickly discovered he had picked the inaccurate guy.

this is often the tale of the way one aspect of the realm got here to be named now not after its discoverer Christopher Columbus, yet after his pal and rival Amerigo Vespucci. Born in Florence in 1454, Vespucci had spent his adolescence as a broker or agent for the good Medici kin. Then in 1491, he his fellow Italian Columbus to Seville. In Seville, Vespucci endured as a Florentine agent, but additionally helped Columbus get his ships prepared for his moment and 3rd voyages. even though Amerigo himself later sailed on at the least voyages of his personal and explored the coast of present-day Brazil, he excelled chiefly at self-invention and self-promotion. He observed himself as an explorer and navigator of genius, and his vibrant go back and forth writings bought far better than these of Columbus. He grew to become Pilot significant of Spain in 1508 and died in 1512.

Felipe Fernandez-Armesto brings this adventurous interval in international background to existence with bright descriptions of the folk and occasions that formed North the USA.

Praise for Amerigo:

"Amerigo Vespucci bought his identify wear a number of continents according to letters he may perhaps by no means have written. however, he rather was once a pimp, flimflam guy, diplomat, and company agent for the Medici." --Top 10 Biographies (US edition), <em>Booklist Magazine.</em>

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A few long-gone flowers were in a vase by my bed. One evening I put some of the withered blossoms in the dish beneath the pot of violets. The snail was awake. It made its way down the side of the pot and investigated the offering with great interest and then began to eat one of the blossoms. A petal started to disappear at a barely discernible rate. I listened carefully. I could hear it eating. The sound was of someone very small munching celery continuously. I watched, transfixed, as over the course of an hour the snail meticulously ate an entire purple petal for dinner.

It was equally attracted to white things such as paper. Perhaps, I thought, paper was its woody version of fast food. After being transported from the woods, the snail had emerged from its shell into the alien territory of my room, with no clue as to where it was or how it had arrived; the lack of vegetation and the desertlike surroundings must have seemed strange. The snail and I were both living in altered landscapes not of our choosing; I figured we shared a sense of loss and displacement. EACH MORNING THERE WAS a moment, before I had fully awakened, when my mind still groped its clumsy way back to consciousness, my body not yet remembered, reality not yet acknowledged.

But out of the blue came a series of insidious relapses, and once again, I was bedridden. Further, more sophisticated testing showed that the mitochondria in my cells no longer functioned correctly and there was damage to my autonomic nervous system; all functions not consciously directed, including heart rate, blood pressure, and digestion, had gone haywire. The drug that had previously helped now caused dangerous side effects; it would soon be removed from the market. WHEN THE BODY is rendered useless, the mind still runs like a bloodhound along well-worn trails of neurons, tracking the echoing questions: the confused family of whys, whats, and whens and their impossibly distant kin how.

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