- Paperback: 496 pages
- Publisher: Free Press; 1 edition (July 6, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1416535349
- ISBN-13: 978-1416535348
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.2 x 8.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 64 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #851,612 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
The Fourth Part of the World: An Astonishing Epic of Global Discovery, Imperial Ambition, and the Birth of America 1st Edition
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) is a service we offer sellers that lets them store their products in Amazon's fulfillment centers, and we directly pack, ship, and provide customer service for these products. Something we hope you'll especially enjoy: FBA items qualify for FREE Shipping and Amazon Prime.
If you're a seller, Fulfillment by Amazon can help you increase your sales. We invite you to learn more about Fulfillment by Amazon .
"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
Amazon Exclusive: Simon Winchester Reviews The Fourth Part of the World
Simon Winchester studied geology at Oxford and later became an award-winning journalist, and author of more than a dozen books. He has written for The Guardian, Smithsonian Magazine, National Geographic, and has reviewed books for The New York Times. His bestselling titles include: The Man Who Loved China, The Professor and the Madman, and Krakatoa. The author divides his time between his home in Massachusetts and in the Western Isles of Scotland. Read Simon Winchester’s exclusive Amazon guest review of The Fourth Part of the World:
Books about obscure and unobvious commercial subjects, written with passion by stylish enthusiasts, have come in recent years to provide us a canon of the most valuable and lasting literature. Toby Lester, who appears to be a master of the language and a man evidently as inquisitive as a ferret, has written a quite wonderful book about something that is, yes, obscure and unobvious commercial--but which is a tale quite vital to anyone interested in knowing the story of this country. It is about the naming of America, and the creation of a document that has been lately and justly called this country's birth-certificate.
The document is a map--and so Mr. Lester's book is in essence about cartography, and sixteenth century cartography at that, a specialist's dream. But the tale of the making and then the hiding and the losing and the finding of this extraordinary and very large document--it called the Waldseemüller Map, and it now belongs to the Library of Congress--is sufficiently exciting to be almost unbearably thrilling. And anyone who can make cartography thrill deserves a medal, at the very least.
The mapmakers in question were German: Martin Waldseemüller and his poetically-inclined colleague, Mathias Ringmann. Come the beginning of the sixteenth century, and working in southern France these two, like many in the European intellectual world, were beginning to hear rumors that a new continent had lately been found, halfway between Spain and Japan. (This was fifteen years after Columbus, who still had no clue what he had found in 1492--to his dying day he insisted that he had merely found a hitherto unknown piece of Asia.)
The rumors swiftly became accepted fact: in the early 1500s the pair came across two printed accounts of the alleged new continent--accounts that were prolix, flamboyant, unreliable and in parts very saucy (there was material relating to the cosmetic self-mutilation, anal cleanliness and sexual practices of the locals) written by a colourful Italian explorer and sorcerer named Amerigo Vespucci. Crucially Vespucci claimed in one of these papers that “on this last voyage of mine…I have discovered a continent in those southern regions that is inhabited by more numerous peoples than in our Europe, Asia or Africa, and in addition I found a more pleasant and temperate climate than in any other region known to us…”
As it happened, the mapmakers had already been commissioned to create a new world map--and so on it, they both agreed after reading Vespucci's accounts, they would now draw this new body of land, and they would give it a name. After some head-scratching they agreed the name should be the feminine form of the Latinised version of Amerigo Vespucci's Christian name: the properly feminine place-nouns of Africa, Asia and Europe would now be joined, quite simply, by a brand-new entity that they would name America.
And so, in 1507, their map was duly published; and in large letters across the southern half of the southern continental discovery, just where Brazil is situated today, was the single word: America. It was written in majuscule script, was a tiny bit crooked, curiously out of scale and looking a little last-minute and just a little tentative--but nevertheless and incontrovertibly, it was there.
It caught on: a globe published in Paris in 1515 placed the word on both segments of the continent, north and south. The word was published in many books in central Europe--Strasbourg in 1509, Poland in 1512, Vienna in 1520; it was found in a Spanish book in 1520. In Strasbourg, five years later, another book lists 'America' as one of the world's regions and finally, in 1538, Mercator, the new arbiter of the planet's geography, placed the names North America and South America squarely on the two halves of the fourth continent. And with that, the name was secure; and it would never be changed again.
Toby Lester has done American history the greatest service by writing this elegant and thoughtful account of the one morsel of cartographic history that would shake the world's foundations. We are told that this is his first book: may we hope that he writes many more, for his is a rare and masterly talent. --SW
(Photo © Setsuko Winchester)
Discover the Waldseemüller World Map from The Fourth Part of the World
Click on image to enlarge
Click to discover the Waldseemüller map legend
This legend highlights an idea that's almost completely forgotten today: that the New World was remarkable to Europeans in 1507 because it lay not just to the west but also to the south. Read more
The portrait shown here is an idealized depiction of the ancient Greek sage Claudius Ptolemy. Read more
The portrait shown here, an obvious companion to the portrait of Ptolemy to its left, is an idealized portrait of Amerigo Vespucci...Read more
Here, printed in block letters on what we know today as Brazil, is the first use of the name America on a map. Read more
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. With the excitement and exhilaration of an explorer, Atlantic contributor Lester sets off on his own journey of discovery across the seas of cartography and history. In 2003, the Library of Congress paid $10 million for the only existing copy of the 1507 map that was the first to show the New World and call it America. Lester ranges over the history of cartography, such as the zonal maps of the Middle Ages that divided the world into three parts—Africa, Europe and Asia. In 1507, Martin Waldseemüller and Matthias Ringmann, working with a small group of scholars in a small town in eastern France produced their map, based on Amerigo Vespucci's voyages to the West and discovery of South America. In just a few decades the Waldseemüller map was out of date, but its world-changing status lived on, and in 1901 a Jesuit priest, poking around a small German castle, stumbled on a copy. Lester traces the map's journey to America over the next century in a majestic tribute to a historic work. First serial to Smithsonian magazine. (Nov. 3)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
I have always been fascinated with the "imaginary voyage" vogue. If you've ever read and enjoyed, as I have, Babcock's classic "Legendary Islands of the Atlantic" or Johnson's equally fascinating "PHantom Islands of the Atlantic" then this book will be your cup of tea. It describes the intersection of navigational and cartographical science with enduring myths of creation and cosmology.
I am reading the book for the second time, and still find overlooked nuggets of revelation.
If you only read one book on the Age of Exploration and Discovery, this should be it. It is a virtual encyclopedia of the topic, but reads like a novel.
This book gives the reader great insight into the minds of educated people during the middle ages and the Renaissance. We learn of their fears, ignorance, superstitions, hopes, and ambitions. We learn of mankinds slow but steady progress through the centuries in learning about ourselves, our environment and our limitations.
This is a gem of a book and the impressive product of an enormous amount of research. If you enjoy history and adventure you will enjoy this book.
How the map came to be is an epic tale that spans centuries and civilizations. Toby Lester is a detective that leaves no trail unexamined, and has found as many avid antique map collectors have, that when you examine one map you find a trail of bread crumbs that must be consumed.
This delightful tale of discovery and voyage, religion and humanism, is tremendously delightful. The reader will learn what many cartophiles already know. To paraphrase the History of Cartography Project: A map is a metaphor for science and knowledge, for trade and commerce, for colonial and religious expansion. All those stories and more are found in a map, and all those stories are told well by Toby Lester in "The Fourth Part of the World."
Unfortunately, the book doesn't resolve the question of how Waldseemuller's seminal 1507 map showed the Pacific, and the South American Pacific coast, years before Balboa and Magellan actually (allegedly) saw it for the first time for Europeans (though ideas are proposed -- it's a question that could be ultimately unanswerable).
For me, given that Waldseemuller's South American west coast is represented by two straight lines (a physical improbability) it seems likely that it was a good guess, and Lester's book does suggest such a reason as a possibility. In Waldseemuller's second map, made a few years later, he recanted on South America's Pacific coast, and drew the continent as ending against the edge of the map, much more like Ptolemy's original map, for reasons unknown.
But what the Waldseemuller map really represents, and where the Guns, Germs and Steel book is lacking, is the tremendous intellectual achievement that writing; mass (ostensibly religious) conferences inspired by writing; and the printing press gave to the Europeans. Christopher Columbus was one of the first people to benefit from early, printed books. By the 1490's the pressure to cross the Atlantic from Europe to the west must have been palpable and inevitable, despite this bold and often mysterious character called Christopher Columbus; and despite Amerigo Vespucci.