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Inventing the Flat Earth: Columbus and Modern Historians
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Inventing the Flat Earth: Columbus and Modern Historians

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  78 Ratings  ·  12 Reviews
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 ...more
Paperback, 160 pages
Published January 30th 1997 by Praeger (first published 1991)
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Jul 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
In this work Russell challenged the (false) myth that one important facet of Columbus' voyage was that it proved the world was round not flat. Perturbed by the myth's stay power, Russell amassed a mountain of sources from antiquity through Columbus' day (including his own journals) which clearly demonstrate otherwise. Russell then backtracked through textbooks and other popular historical sources to find the origination of the Flat Earth myth, and analyzed when it was invented and why it was abl ...more
Rodney Harvill
Mar 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
A common misconception in modern culture and even in academia is that the people in the ancient world and/or the medieval period believed that the earth was flat and it was up to Columbus to set them straight. There are several variants to this misconception. Some hold that the ancient Greeks and Romans recognized that the world was round; others that even they erroneously believed in a flat earth. In general, all variants claim that the medieval believed in a flat earth, either continuing an er ...more
Jul 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
A brilliant and highly necessary examination of where the idea that medieval peoples believed the Earth was flat came from and why it continues. The organization is occasionally a bit odd, but the research is thorough and well-explained.
Feb 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Great book. Shows how ideology and prejudice dictates most peoples view of the Middle Ages. Also traces how Protestant rhetoric inadvertantly helped to discredit Christianity for later generations.
Russell points out the the believe that people thought that the world was flat and that the "Burning Times" occured have become part of the modern cycle of myths, to the extent that they are assumed knowledge.
Patrick Phillimore
Aug 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I thought at first this book would be a dry take on a specific urban legend, but it did really well to illustrate the reasons for the fallacy and the larger context behind it. Very, Very interesting, this book was a great read that kept me thinking the whole way through.
David Scarratt
A brief attempt to trace the rise of the false claim that most people before the early modern period believed, under the pernicious influence of "the church", that the earth is flat, and that Columbus demonstrated their folly. A must-read if you are into higher-order intentionality.
May 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A trenchant demonstration that what "Everybody Knows" is not just dead wrong (as usual), but the result of systematic anti-Catholic Whig propaganda. Russell dissects and explodes the "Flat Error" ("Flat Lie" would be more like it) to the satisfaction of everyone reasonable.
Mar 06, 2013 marked it as to-read
Recommended by St. Abraham's of Santa Cruz, CA
Here's a summary of the book by the author:
Sep 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Excellent debunking of a myth that has been used to denigrate religion.
Jan 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Very interesting.
Jan 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014
Pretty interesting stuff right here.
Stephanie T
Mar 02, 2009 rated it liked it
This book warns us not to believe everything we hear and read. Therefore, should be believe this book? I enjoyed the message, although the text itself is pretty dry.
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Jeffrey Burton Russell is Professor of History, Emeritus, at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Besides UCSB, he has taught History and Religious Studies at Berkeley, Riverside, Harvard, New Mexico, and Notre Dame. He has published seventeen books and many articles, most of them in his special field, history of theology. He is most noted for his five-volume history of the concept of the ...more
More about Jeffrey Burton Russell

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