They Discovered the World (Or Not)

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

Reviewed by Ellen O’Connell


Andrea di Robilant’s new book Irresistible North opens with a bold claim: maybe, just maybe, two Venetian brothers named Nicoló and Antonio Zen traveled to parts of the new world in the 1380s, more than a century before Columbus.

The tale of the Zens’ adventure was published by a descendant named Nicoló the younger in 1558 and served as the basis for the first map of the world, but it was …

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