Inventing the Flat Earth

Inventing the Flat Earth : Columbus and Modern Historians

4.05 (90 ratings by Goodreads)
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Description

Neither Christopher Columbus nor his contemporaries thought the earth was flat. Yet this curious illusion persists today, firmly established with the help of the media, textbooks, teachers-even noted historians. Inventing the Flat Earth is Russell's attempt to set the record straight. He begins with a discussion of geographical knowledge in the Middle Ages, examining what Columbus and his contemporaries actually did believe, and then moves to a look at how the error was first propagated in the 1820s and 1830s and then snowballed to outrageous proportions by the late 19th century. But perhaps the most intriguing focus of the book is the reason why we allow this error to persist. Do we prefer to languish in a comfortable and familiar error rather than exert the effort necessary to discover the truth? This uncomfortable question is engagingly answered.



Inventing the Flat Earth is Jeffrey Burton Russell's attempt to set the record straight. He begins with a discussion of geographical knowledge in the Middle Ages, examining what Columbus and his contemporaries actually did believe, and then moves to a look at how the error was first propagated in the 1820s and 1830s-including how noted writers Washington Irving and Antoinne-Jean Letronne were among those responsible. He shows how later day historians followed these original mistakes, and how this snowball effect grew to outrageous proportions in the late nineteenth century, when Christians opposed to Darwinism were labelled as similar to Medieval Christians who (allegedly) thought the earth was flat. But perhaps the most intriguing focus of the book is the reason why we allow this error to persist. Do we prefer to languish in a comfortable and familiar error rather than exert the effort necessary to discover the truth? This uncomfortable question is engagingly answered, and includes a discussion about the implications of this for historical knowledge and scholarly honesty.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 160 pages
  • 143.76 x 218.95 x 10.16mm | 231.33g
  • Praeger Publishers Inc
  • Westport, United States
  • English
  • New edition
  • New edition
  • 027595904X
  • 9780275959043
  • 399,799

Table of contents

Foreword by David Noble Preface The Well-Rounded Planet The Medieval Ball Flattening the Globe The Wrong Way Round Around the Corner Selected Bibliography Index Includes 26 B&W illustrations
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Review quote

"Inventing the Flat Earth...is a jewel of a book that provides important new insights into the way historians have interpreted Columbus's achievement."-The New York Times Book Review ?[Russell] has written a scholarly, yet very readable, investigation into [the "flat earth" myth's] background, origins, and consequences. This book also is well-documented and contains a good bibliography and numerous helpful illustrations. It can be of interest to scholars and other serious readers as well as to students in the classroom dealing with problems of medieval-modern intellectual history.?-Teaching History ?Inventing the Flat Earth is a well-written and thoroughly researched account of a fascinating topic. It is strongly recommended.?-Science & Christian Belief ?Russell conclusively shows how the 'flat earth' myth was concocted and popularized by Washington Irving and a French erudit and how the 'flat error' was declared by Darwininst historians, who compared the denial of Darwin's theory to Columbus's struggle for acceptance by his scholastic religious contemporaries. The book is a delightful, provocative, and persuasive interpretation about a myth that has flitted in and out of popular history.?- Colonial Latin American Historical Review ?Russell packs a punch in this slender, clearly written, and engagingly argued volume.?-Booklist ?This book is must reading for all Christians.?-Biblical Worldview ?This book is must reading for all Christians.??Biblical Worldview "YRussell has written a scholarly, yet very readable, investigation into Ythe "flat earth" myth's background, origins, and consequences. This book also is well-documented and contains a good bibliography and numerous helpful illustrations. It can be of interest to scholars and other serious readers as well as to students in the classroom dealing with problems of medieval-modern intellectual history."-Teaching History "[Russell] has written a scholarly, yet very readable, investigation into [the "flat earth" myth's] background, origins, and consequences. This book also is well-documented and contains a good bibliography and numerous helpful illustrations. It can be of interest to scholars and other serious readers as well as to students in the classroom dealing with problems of medieval-modern intellectual history."-Teaching History "Inventing the Flat Earth is a well-written and thoroughly researched account of a fascinating topic. It is strongly recommended."-Science & Christian Belief "Russell packs a punch in this slender, clearly written, and engagingly argued volume."-Booklist "This book is must reading for all Christians."-Biblical Worldview "Russell conclusively shows how the 'flat earth' myth was concocted and popularized by Washington Irving and a French erudit and how the 'flat error' was declared by Darwininst historians, who compared the denial of Darwin's theory to Columbus's struggle for acceptance by his scholastic religious contemporaries. The book is a delightful, provocative, and persuasive interpretation about a myth that has flitted in and out of popular history."- Colonial Latin American Historical Review
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About Jeffrey Burton Russell

JEFFREY BURTON RUSSELL is Professor of History at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He has contributed numerous articles to scholarly journals and reference volumes and is the author of 16 other books on medieval history, the history of religion, and intellectual history, including A History of Heaven: The Singing Silence (1997).
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Rating details

90 ratings
4.05 out of 5 stars
5 40% (36)
4 31% (28)
3 24% (22)
2 3% (3)
1 1% (1)
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