Irresistible North: From Venice to Greenland on the Trail of the Zen Brothers

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Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, Aug 7, 2012 - History - 240 pages

A century before Columbus arrived in America, two brothers from Venice are said to have explored parts of the New World. They became legends during the Renaissance, and then the source of a great scandal that would discredit their story. Today, they have been largely forgotten.

In this very original work—part history, part travelogue—Andrea di Robilant chronicles his discovery of a travel narrative published in 1558 by the Venetian statesman Nicol˛ Zen. The text and its fascinating nautical map re-created the travels of two of the author's ancestors, brothers who claimed to have explored the North Atlantic in the 1380s and 1390s. Di Robilant sets out to discover why the Zens' account later came under attack as one of the greatest frauds in geographical history. Was their map—and even their journey—partially or perhaps entirely faked?


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User Review  - pbjwelch - LibraryThing

I thought I would enjoy this book far more than I did. Not that it wasn't interesting, but the topic is so fascinating and so little is known that I had hoped it would be a page-turner. It wasn't but ... Read full review

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User Review  - CGlanovsky - LibraryThing

Read at your own risk. You'll almost definitely find the story fascinating and the author's reasoning compelling. Unfortunately, I found out later that there is very little support for Di Robilant's ... Read full review


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About the author (2012)

Andrea di Robilant was born in Italy and educated at Columbia University, where he specialized in international affairs. He is the author of two previous books, A Venetian Affair and Lucia: A Venetian Life in the Age of Napoleon. He currently lives in Rome with his wife and two sons.

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