'A masterpiece of cartographic literature that will be of lasting importance'
'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.'
'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.'
'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.'
'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.'
'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.'