The Fourth Part of the World (Ebook)

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.

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.

Publication date: 05/07/2012


ISBN: 9781847652805


Imprint: Profile Books

Subject: History & Classics

Reviews for The Fourth Part of the World

'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 

'Brilliantly conceived and painstakingly researched, an original take on the European discovery of America.'

Robert D. Kaplan, author of Balkan Ghosts and Eastward to Tartary 

'A page-turning story of the creation of what amounts to a sixteenth century Google Earth ... It inspired generations of explorers then and will inspire readers now'

Chris Anderson, author of The Long Tail 

'boundlessly engaging book...he tells the story not just of the map's creation, but pretty much the story of Europe's discovery and mapping of the entire world up to that point.'

 The Sunday Times

'In our era of instant mapping and Google Earth, it can be hard to understand a time when people had no clear concept of the Earth on which they stood... Lester's book offers a clear survey of how people came to understand the world in which they lived.'

 Washington Post

'By using the map as a lens through which to view a nexus of myth, imagination, technology, stupidity, and imperial ambition, Lester has penned a provocative, disarming testament to human ambition and ingenuity.'

 Boston Globe

'marvelously imaginative, exhaustively researched account...That he relates it all so cleanly and cogently-via elegant prose, relaxed erudition, measured pacing, and purposeful architecture-is a feat. That he proffers plentiful visual delights, including detailed views of the legendary document, is a gift. This map, Lester writes, "draws you in, reveals itself in stages, and doesn't let go." Nor does this splendid volume.'

 The Atlantic

'This is a very impressive book: always user-friendly but never dumbed-down and covering an extraordinary range of subject matters. The best popular book on cartography, in fact, since Nicholas Crane's Mercator; and that is high praise indeed.'

Noel Malcolm Sunday Telegraph

'Absorbing account of how a 16th-century cartographer put America on the map.'

 Irish Times

'Lester tells his fascinating tale in a clear and informative style that never fails to grip and entertain. Whether he is describing the intricacies of Spanish and Portuguese court politics or explaining some of the niceties of map-making and navigation, Lester proves himself to be a master storyteller. Using the relatively obscure discipline of cartography to portray a seminal era in European intellectual history, the book is a spellbinding account of an undertaking which would change the world forever.'

Karl White Sunday Business Post

'fascinating...a fast-paced and immensely entertaining story'

Marcus Tanner Tablet

'Wonderful...full of good insights and makes excellent use of contemporary voices...This wondrous book is true to such a spirit of enquiry'

William J Smyth Irish Examiner

'Highly intelligent, entertaining and inspirational research...Lester, with his vivid, descriptive use of language, imagery and thoroughly researched detail, conjures the magic and wonder of the Age of Discovery and evokes a nostalgia for a time when all was not yet mapped out for us to see'

Emma Baker Real Travel - Book of the Month

'Lester's deftness in narrating a long and complex tale is impressive: fluent, clear, well informed, and perfectly paced. In short, he is an example of a phenomenon increasingly embarrassing to professional historians: a journalist who writes history better than we can.'

Felipe Fernandez-Armesto 

Toby Lester

Toby Lester

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. Picked as one of the best books of the year by the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and American Heritage, among other publications, the book received second prize in the Barnes & Noble Discover New Writers Program, and was shortlisted for the Longman-History Today Book of the Year Prize. Lester has written extensively forThe Atlantic on subjects that include the sociology of new religions, the attempt to reconstruct ancient Greek music, the revisionist scholarship of the Qur'an, the struggle to change alphabets in Azerbaijan, and the chance harmonies of everyday sounds. He lives in the Boston area with his wife and three daughters.
Visit the author's website.