book cover of Amerigo


A non fiction book by

Stefan Zweig's Amerigo: A Comedy of Errors in History is the Austrian writer's account of how America got its name. This short, late work describes how Amerigo Vespucci, "a man of medium caliber [who] had never been entrusted with a fleet" gave his name to the New World because "of a combination of circumstances - through error, accident, and misunderstanding."

Zweig was living in exile in Brazil when he wrote Amerigo, shortly before committing suicide in despair over Hitler's conquest of Europe. "The paradox that Columbus discovered America but failed to recognize it, while Vespucci did not discover it but was the first to recognize it as a new continent," he wrote, illustrates how "history will not be reasoned with."

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