'Quirky and highly entertaining... elicits plentiful laughter and astonishment' – Sunday Times
The History of an Infamous Idea
Social and intellectual history at its best – and strangest.
Contrary to popular belief, fostered in countless school classrooms the world over, Christopher Columbus did not discover that the world was round. The idea of the world as a sphere had been widely accepted in scientific, philosophical and even religious circles from as early as the fourth century BC. Yet, bizarrely, it was not until the supposedly more rational nineteenth century that the notion that the world might actually be flat really took hold. Even more bizarrely, it persists to this day, despite Apollo missions and widely publicized pictures of the decidedly spherical Earth from space.
Meticulously researched and compellingly readable, Flat Earth is the first definitive account of this infamous idea. It explodes the myths surrounding Columbus and the battles between science and religion, explores the wilder shores of flat-Earth belief and establishes, without doubt, that the world is most emphatically not flat.
From Samuel ‘Parallax’ Rowbotham and his slick advocacy of Zetetic – or free-thinking – astronomy to Darwin’s friend and collaborator Alfred Russel Wallace, and his wager with the flat-Earther John Hampden; from Lady Blount’s earnest pamphleteering in the flat-Earth’s cause to Wilbur Glenn Voliva’s belief that there was no such thing as gravity; from the English Flat Earth Society’s campaign against the Apollo missions to the work of sister organizations in America and Canada, Flat Earth is a remarkable study of strange obsessions and sometimes stranger individuals.