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The Tropics of Empire: Why Columbus Sailed South to the Indies (Transformations: Studies in the History of Science and Technology) Hardcover – June 13, 2008

ISBN-13: 978-0262232647 ISBN-10: 0262232642 Edition: First Edition

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The Tropics of Empire: Why Columbus Sailed South to the Indies (Transformations: Studies in the History of Science and Technology) + The West Indies: Patterns of Development, Culture and Environmental Change since 1492 (Cambridge Studies in Historical Geography)
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Editorial Reviews


In this challenging book, Nicolás Wey Gómez proves something everyone thought was impossible: there are useful new things to say about Columbus.

(Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, Department of History, Tufts University)

The Tropics of Empire is an extraordinary work of history, learned, imaginative, and immensely revealing. Nicolás Wey Gómez recreates the complex and now forgotten world of cosmological and geographical learning within which Columbus planned his voyage to Asia. Through close reading of a vast range of sources he shows us exactly why Columbus thought he could sail south, as well as west, to Asia, and how he envisioned the material and human world that he would find there. Wey Gómez makes clear that Columbus's wide reading and speculative thinking had dramatic consequences in the real world, not only for him but for the inhabitants of the Americas.

(Anthony T. Grafton, Henry Putnam University Professor of History, Princeton University)

This work is a significant milestone in the study of Christopher Columbus, his psyche, and the academic pursuit of history in general.

(Clinton R. Long, Fordham University The European Legacy)

[A] hefty and impressive study executed with erudition, skill and considerable insight... Those who believed, following the Columbus quincentennial, that there was little left to say about a Genoese sailor's extraordinary adventures overseas will now be convinced otherwise.

(Neil Safier American Scientist)

The Tropics of Empire deserves to become a landmark in the study of the inaugural stirrings of European overseas expansion.

(Gabriel Paquette The Times Literary Supplement)

Mr. [Wey] Gómez's volume... offer[s] tremendous insight into the prevailing medieval understanding of the shape of the world Columbus encountered and absorbed.

(Alfred W. Crosby The New York Sun)

About the Author

Nicolás Wey Gómez is Professor of History at the California Institute of Technology.

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