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Irresistible North by Andrea Di Robilant

Irresistible North (edition 2011)

by Andrea Di Robilant

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Title:Irresistible North
Authors:Andrea Di Robilant
Info:Vintage (2011), Kindle Edition, 241 pages
Collections:Read & Owned, Your library (inactive)
Tags:History, Non-Fiction, Travel, Medieval History, History of Europe

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Irresistible North: From Venice to Greenland on the Trail of the Zen Brothers by Andrea Di Robilant




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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 stance in the academic community. While he addresses the controversy in his book, he dismisses it with deceptive ease. I WANT so much to believe in his version of events that it makes me feel like maybe I shouldn't. Not so easily. After reading the book I looked up the subject on (where else) the Wikipedia. The whole issue was dismissed as a fantasy. I attempted to edit the site with the information from the book as a possible alternate perspective and checked back a day or two later to find the information and citation removed. Clealry there are strong convictions at work here. Ultimately, the book makes an unassailable case--in my mind--for the plausibility of the voyages if not the probability.

To be read as an installment in an ongoing debate rather than as a final word (perhaps good advice in all cases).
1 vote CGlanovsky | Nov 10, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 030726985X, Hardcover)

From the author of A Venetian Affair and Lucia comes a charming odyssey in the path of the mysterious Zen brothers, who explored parts of the New World a century before Columbus, and became both a source of scandal and a cause célèbre among geographers in the following centuries.

This delightful journey begins with Andrea di Robilant’s serendipitous discovery of a travel narrative published in Venice in 1558 by the Renaissance statesman Nicolò Zen: the text and its fascinating nautical map re-created the travels of two of the author’s ancestors, brothers who explored the North Atlantic in the 1380s and 1390s. Di Robilant set out to discover why later, in the nineteenth century, the Zens’ account came under attack as one of the greatest frauds in geographical history. Was their map—and even their journey—partially or perhaps entirely faked?

In Irresistible North the author follows the Zens’ route from the Faeroes to Shetland to Iceland and Greenland, greeted by characters who help unravel the enigmas in the Zens’ account. The medieval world comes to life as di Robilant guides us through a landscape enlivened by the ghosts of power-hungry earls and bishops of the old Norwegian realm and magical tales of hot springs and smoking mountains. In this rich telling—an original work of history and a travel book in one—the magnetism of the north draws us in as powerfully as it drew the Zen brothers more than six centuries ago.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:24:19 -0400)

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Examines the travel narrative describing the journey of the Zen brothers through the North Atlantic in the 1380s and 1390s, and looks at why the Zen's account was called a fraud in the nineteenth century.

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