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Flat Earth: The History of an Infamous Idea
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Flat Earth: The History of an Infamous Idea

3.6  ·  Rating Details ·  99 Ratings  ·  22 Reviews
Contrary to popular belief fostered in countless school classrooms the world over, Christopher Columbus did not discover that the earth was round. The idea of a spherical world had been widely accepted in educated circles from as early as the fourth century b.c. Yet, bizarrely, it was not until the supposedly more rational nineteenth century that the notion of a ?at earth ...more
Hardcover, 436 pages
Published August 5th 2008 by Thomas Dunne Books (first published 2007)
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Tommy Carlson
So, here's the first book conforming to my 2015 "no books by white men" resolution, Flat Earth by Christine Garwood. It examines fairly recent beliefs in an actual flat Earth. It's an amusing read, in places, but drags most of the time.

It starts out with a couple chapters explaining why we as a culture thought folks back in Columbus' time even thought that the world was flat. (Actually, I didn't think they thought that, nor I suspect do many people today.) Turns out it was evil secularists, tryi
Marcus Shepherd
Dec 20, 2011 Marcus Shepherd rated it liked it
Recommends it for: few.
How do you know the Earth is round? No, really. Because you saw a picture? Because you own a globe? What evidence could you throw up right now to prove the globularity of the ground you stand on?

Looking through some of the other reviews, it seems like people focus on the proponents of the Flat Earth model with pity and scorn.
"At times you want to find the people it talks about and slap some sense into them, at others you just feel sorry for them. Seeing the deliberate ignorance people impose on
Aug 13, 2011 Karen rated it really liked it
This is a bit long winded at times, and bogs down in retoric, but after all how many ways can you sustain a Flat Earth theory. What is amazing that against all odds (science in particular) people can still believe, and justify thier belief. It always good to look at both sides of any story, how else do we make decisions.
Sep 10, 2011 Hazel rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Amazing expose on the history of flat earth belief, and the complexities involved. At times you want to find the people it talks about and slap some sense into them, at others you just feel sorry for them. Seeing the deliberate ignorance people impose on themselves is both amusing, and terribly frightening.
Jul 28, 2010 Katie rated it really liked it
This was an interesting book about the history of the flat earth idea, mainly starting in the early 1800's up to today. It is well written and poses some interesting ideas at the end about why people believe in crazy ideas.
Susan Wight
The Idea of a spherical world had been widely accepted in educated circles from as early as the fourth century BC. Yet, bizarrely, it was not until the supposedly more rational nineteenth century that the notion of the flat earth really took hold. This book traces the history of the Flat Earth idea.
It has taken me quite a long time to read this book as it is fascinating in parts but the very nature of denialist arguments render it repetitive as different manifestations of the Flat Earth Society
Aug 02, 2012 Bridget rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2012
When i saw this book at the library I found myself fascinated by the concept. It took me a little bit to get in the swing of it... but it was certainly worth it.

Christine Garwood has done an immaculate job in her research. The book's subject matter lies somewhere between religion and science, following the life of the theory by the people who tried to spread the word. I also learnt a whole lot about the history of science and how people think!

My favourite part was the chapter about the Flat Ear
Feb 23, 2016 Suzy rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I was really looking forward to reading this book. However, after the first 10 pages I knew I wouldn't be able to finish it. There are many inaccuracies in the author's attempt to place things into historical context. Bizarrely, for a history book, ideas and people are described using very emotional, petty language, which was off-putting and made it very difficult to take her seriously. It was also a red flag for me that early on I needed to fact check some things that I had doubts on (On a side ...more
Guy Robinson
A book about people believing in a Flat Earth from ancient times to the 1970s. It corrects the most fundamental errors and documents the most excessive proponents, who often had a most challenging time.

It covers modern misconceptions, the western progression towards the provable shape of the Earth, a Victorian showman, Parallax, his varied disciples, an American religious city that fell under the control of a Flat Earth Bible literalist, the Flat Earth Society that operated during the Apollo spa
Bonnie Samuel
From anti-vaxxers to climate change deniers to anti-evolutionists, the capacity of human beings to hold onto incorrect beliefs despite mountains of evidence proving them wrong is pretty astonishing. Although I found this book to be pretty dry, the characters highlighted demonstrate that when a person desperately wants to believe that something is true, any attempt to change their mind is futile, since they'll always find a way to discredit the evidence either by decrying it as fake, manipulated, ...more
Jun 13, 2015 Steve rated it did not like it
Long, boring thesis like writing. Entirely misses the point of church influence by not even discussing the trial of Galileo and its significance.
Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides
Nov 30, 2008 Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides marked it as decided-not-to-read
After the introduction, this book, well, went into more detail than I was interested in. Honestly I'm more interested in how this came to be accepted as history than in every crank who has thought the earth was flat. As an aside, though, the book mentions an early example of viral marketing/pseudo-advertising (false missing person notices in newspapers) involving a Washington Irving book. I wonder if this was the first instance.
May 06, 2013 Ari rated it really liked it
Aristotle knew the world was round, as did the vast bulk of ancient and medieval writers in Europe. The flat-earth movement as we know it is a 19th century creature. It started in Victorian England as a strange mix of religious fundamentalism and postmodern skepticism. This book explains how the movemement got started and where it went. Much food for thought in terms of how cults or wacky beliefs can grow even in educated countries.
Jul 25, 2011 Alvin rated it liked it
Unfortunately, this book tries to be a comprehensive history of its subject instead of an entertaining overview. Boring, unecessary details abound and are – unforgivably – repeated. Give it a skim if, like me, you are fascinated by misguided eccentrics, but don't plan on reading every word.
Aaron Gladki
May 23, 2012 Aaron Gladki rated it did not like it
This was a hard, hard slog and only pigheadedness kept me at it much past page 70. Reads like a PHD thesis, and as for the cover quote about the book being an entertaining an often hilarious read, well, I'm not sure what book they were writing about. It sure wasn't this one....
Dec 26, 2008 Eric rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Nonfiction book about various flat earth societies and believers throughout the last several hundred years. The book also spends the first few chapters debunking the idea that ancient (i.e. pre-medieval) people believed the earth was flat.

It's okay.
Mar 07, 2016 Filjan rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Don't waste your time reading this. The author just throws in every "fact" she can find, including a whole chapter on a Flat Earth society that was a hoax.

Properly edited this book would have been a quarter as long and twice as informative.
Jun 05, 2013 Zack rated it it was ok
Caught between pop-history fun and the nitty-gritty facts. Too dull for the former and missing too big of gaps for the latter (too much focus on a few individuals). Meh. Not really worth the time.
Feb 12, 2009 Anthony rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent history of resistance to the idea of a free-floating Earth in surprisingly modern times. The parallels to the Evolution debate are obvious. Very easy to read and informative.
Nov 28, 2012 Yeedle rated it really liked it
Great book, lot's of witty humor. It's so dispassionate (objective) that at times you can be fooled into thinking that the author really considered the earth to be flat...
Steven Williams
Jun 12, 2014 Steven Williams rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fairly interesting, except it kind of seemed like same thing over and over again. Only the names and times seemed to change
Tom Holt
Dec 15, 2009 Tom Holt rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned
Flat Earth: The History of an Infamous Idea by Christine Garwood (2008)
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Nigel McFarlane
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Sep 27, 2016
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