Join our mailing list for bookish updates | There's 10% off all books on our website & free UK p&p. Offer applied at checkout

The Fourth Part of the World

Imprint: Profile Books
Subject: History & Classics

The Fourth Part of the World

The Epic Story of History's Greatest Map

Toby Lester

In 1901, Josef Fischer accidentally discovered the Waldseemüller Map of 1507 - the first map to depict the world largely as we know it today. In 2003, the Library of Congress bought the Waldseemüller Map for $10 million, in the most expensive acquisition of a single document in American history. The Fourth Part of the World tells the epic story for the first time of the voyagers and thinkers who created this remarkable map and ushered in the New World.

eBook (ePUB/MOBI)?
9781847652805 (5 Jul 2012)

About the book

The Waldseemüller Map of 1507 introduced an astonishing collection of cartological firsts. It was the first map to show the New World as a separate continent, alongside Europe, Africa and Asia - and the first on which the word 'America' appears. It was the first map to suggest the existence of the Pacific. It was, in short, the first map to depict the whole world as we know it today.

Beautiful, fascinating and revealing, it arrived on the scene as Europeans were moving out of the Middle Ages and into the Renaissance, thanks to a tiny group of European mapmakers who pieced together ideas going back to the ancients and through Marco Polo to Vespucci. In The Fourth Part of the World, Toby Lester charts the amazing and colourful history of this map, whose profound influence has been neglected for centuries and which changed the world-view of all humankind.

About the author

Toby Lester is a contributing editor to The Atlantic and the author of The Fourth Part of the World (2009), which tells the story of the map that gave America its name. A former Peace Corps volunteer and United Nations observer, he lives in the Boston area with his wife and three daughters.


A masterpiece of cartographic literature that will be of lasting importance

- Simon Winchester

The right technology at the right time can change the world. Toby Lester has written a page-turning story of the creation of what amounts to a sixteenth century Google Earth, a revolutionary way to see the world. It inspired generations of explorers then and will inspire readers now.

- Chris Anderson, author of The Long Tail, Editor in Chief of WIRED Magazine

What distinguishes civilized people from barbarians? It's the map of the world they have in their minds. A barbarian's map marks the spot of just a few things: herds of sheep to steal, convenience stores to rob, political opponents to condemn on talk radio or the internet. A civilized person tries to see the world as a whole. Toby Lester's brilliant work explains how Western Europeans ceased to be a horde of pillaging bloggers and blow-hards (intellectually speaking) and became upstanding citizens (intellectually speaking) of Western Civilization.

- PJ O’Rourke author of On the Wealth of Nations

A sprightly, engrossing, and wide-ranging introduction to cartography and the celebrated Waldseëmuller map. In Toby Lester's capable hands, this celebrated depiction becomes a kind of Rosetta stone for the entire Age of Discovery.

- Laurence Bergreen, author of Marco Polo and Over the Edge of the World.

The complex artistry of the beautiful German map that first identified 'America' five centuries ago provides, for a truly imaginative writer, the opportunity to tell a wonderful and exciting story. Toby Lester, seizing this opportunity, has risen to the occasion brilliantly, creating a masterpiece of cartographic literature that will be of lasting importance.

- Simon Winchester, author of, most recently, The Man Who Loved China

Additional Information

Imprint: Profile Books
Subject: History & Classics

Also by this author