Toward the Setting Sun

Toward the Setting Sun: Columbus, Cabot, Vespucci, and the Race for America

Walker & Company (2008)

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“Boyle keeps readers abreast of political and economic changes during the turbulent decades of the high Renaissance…this dense, fact-filled book is a compelling read…Boyle brilliantly recounts the serendipitous events that led the mapmaker Martin Waldseemüller to write the word ‘America’ on an early version of the finest printed Renaissance map of the world…”Toward the Setting Sun” succeeds in painting vivid portraits of the three main players, showing them as less heroic than the classic image, but also more human and accessible to modern readers.”

Washington Post

The Lost Voyages of John Cabot, lecture at National Maritime Museum in London, 17 June 2010

Discussion on National Public Radio, Columbus Day 2008

Did Columbus and Cabot begin as partners? History News Network, August 2008

Why have we never been told the full story of the ‘discovery of America’ before?  Of course the tale of Christopher Columbus has been told often, and – very occasionally, and mainly for children – so have the stories of John Cabot and Amerigo Vespucci, his fellow pioneers.

But those stories have been told separately until now, artificially bowdlerised into three different parts.  Toward the Setting Sun is a bid to tell it as one tale – as it originally was: of three young men, from the same land, born within a few years and a hundred miles or so of each other, who struggled against indifference, fear and bitter rivalry to be the first to cross the western ocean.  And who, by so doing, ushered in the end of the medieval age.

Toward the Setting Sun is the first history of the discovery that provides a narrative linking all three of the pioneers of the 1490s – nearly all books concentrate just on one at a time – and therefore the first accurate story of the decade that first understood the shape of the world.  It also embeds the story in the history of business.  Other mariners had crossed the Atlantic before, but only Columbus and Cabot (working together) had a business plan by which they could profit from it.

It also incorporates, for the first time in popular history, the very latest research – Columbus’ cruelty, Vespucci’s lies, and the truth about what really happened to Cabot…