Putting America on the Map: The Story of the Most Important Graphic Document in the History of the United States

Overview

In 1507, a German cartographer created a world map that, for the first time, included the continental landmasses in the Western Hemisphere, discovered within the 15 previous years. He inserted the name "America" on the southern continent, honoring Amerigo Vespucci, who had erroneously been credited with setting foot on South American soil before Christopher Columbus. With the aid of the newly invented printing press, the name "America" became the accepted designation of land in ...
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Overview

In 1507, a German cartographer created a world map that, for the first time, included the continental landmasses in the Western Hemisphere, discovered within the 15 previous years. He inserted the name "America" on the southern continent, honoring Amerigo Vespucci, who had erroneously been credited with setting foot on South American soil before Christopher Columbus. With the aid of the newly invented printing press, the name "America" became the accepted designation of land in the New World.
In a colorful narrative that reads like a good mystery, Dr. Seymour I. Schwartz brings to life the amazing history of America’s "baptismal certificate." Since its creation the Waldseemüller World Map of 1507 has been surrounded by intrigues and controversies.
Schwartz’s compelling story, which includes many amazing twists and turns, also features cameo appearances by Alexander von Humboldt, Washington Irving, Frédéric Chopin, George Sand, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ogden Nash, J. Pierpont Morgan, Paul Mellon, and German Chancellors Helmut Kohl and Gerhard Schröder.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Seymour Schwartz provides a richly textured and illustrated biography of one of the most important maps in history by deftly placing this unique work within its geographical and historical context and recounting the major controversies associated with its creation, interpretation, and preservation. I recommend it to the casual reader as well as the serious student of history."

RALPH E. EHRENBERG
Former Chief, Geography and Map Division, Library of Congress
Author of Mapping the World: An Illustrated History of Cartography

"The general reader should rejoice that Dr. Seymour Schwartz has happily combined a personal and genial account of his investigations into the earliest maps of America with the detailed story of how the amazing Waldseemüller map from 1507 was invented, printed, lost, rediscovered, and finally bought by the U. S. Library of Congress. Dr. Schwartz draws us into his tale with his infectious enthusiasm and well-informed connoisseurship."

H. C. ERIK MIDELFORT
C. Julian Bishko Professor of History
University of Virginia

"Schwartz's superb research takes us back to the early sixteenth century with a riveting tale of the history of America's first map - a must read for map lovers and historians."

DAVID A. COBB
Curator, Harvard Map Collection
Co-editor of Mapping Boston

“…this history of the map brings to life its colorful background in a fine recommendation for any college-level collection strong in world history.”
-The Bookwatch, Midwest Book Review 
 
“…tells an interesting story filled with amazing twists and turns.”
 -Bookviews 
 
“…to be commended not only for the effort, but also because it is a readable document that deals with a desirable explanation of the map’s origin, characteristics, and properties. The text is complemented by a number of color photographs showing maps, script, and individuals of major importance, including Vespucci. The bibliography is most helpful for further reading and understanding…Recommended.”
-Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries 
 
“His narrative is engaging. He has woven several disparate threads of the map’s story into a fascinating tale of exploration, intrigue, cartographic mystery, and the peculiarities of the rate book and map trade. This is the only volume to summarize all that is known not only about the map and its creation, but also about the provenance and specific history of the Library of Congress copy…this book will have great appeal to the general ready interested in the history of cartography, and in the process by which rare maps are studied, bought, and sold.”
-Imago Mundi, International Journal for the History of Cartography

 

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781591025139
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books
  • Publication date: 9/28/2007
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 1,144,699
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.45 (d)

Meet the Author

Seymour Schwartz
Seymour I Schwartz, MD (Pittsford, NY), a world-renowned surgeon, is the author of Gifted Hands: America’s Most Significant Contributions to Surgery. He is equally renowned as a cartographic historian. He served on the board of directors of the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, and on the board of the Geography and Map Division of the Library of Congress, and is the author of The Mismapping of America, The Mapping of America (with Ralph E. Ehrenberg), and This Land Is Your Land, among other books.
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