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Extended Audio Sample The Fourth Part of the World: The Race to the Ends of the Earth, and the Epic Story of the Map That Gave America Its Name, by Toby Lester Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (436 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Toby Lester Narrator: Peter Jay Fernande Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Brimming with enthralling details and personalities, Toby Lester’s The Fourth Part of the World spotlights Martin Waldseemüller’s 1507 world map and recounts the epic tale of the mariners and scholars who facilitated this watershed of Western history.

Five hundred years ago, an obscure German scholar took a quantum leap in thought to design a groundbreaking map. It included such innovations as labeling a separate New World continent America and approximating the world as we know it today. Inherent in this magnificent masterpiece are clear echoes from the adventures of Marco Polo, the discoveries of Christopher Columbus, the explorations of Amerigo Vespucci, numerous Renaissance journeys, and much more.

Fully realized by Peter Jay Fernandez’s superb narration, this vivid account will help listeners appreciate why, in 2003, the Library of Congress paid $10 million for this antiquity and the authenticating documents found with it in 1901.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Marvelously imaginative, exhaustively researched…Guiding the reader Virgil-like through the Age of Discovery, Lester introduces a chronologically and conceptually vast array of Great Men (Columbus, Vespucci, Polo, Copernicus, et al.), competing theories, monastic sages, forgotten poets, opportunistic merchants, unfortunate slaves, and more. That he relates it all so cleanly and cogently—via elegant prose, relaxed erudition, measured pacing, and purposeful architecture—is a feat.”


  • “An intellectual detective story. By using the [Waldseemüller] 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

  • “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…Lester traces the map’s journey to America over the next century in a majestic tribute to a historic work.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “An omnivorous view of world history, geography, and discovery, The Fourth Part of the World introduces a diverse cast of characters: explorers, missionaries, rulers, mariners, merchants, scholars, poets, geographers, and mapmakers. The fitting conclusion of Lester’s epic journey through history is the tale of the map itself: a record of the past, a commentary on the present, and a dream of the future in a new understanding of the world.”

    Barnes & Noble

  • Selected for the November 2009 Indie Next List
  • Finalist for a Barnes & Noble Discover Award in 2010

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Lana | 2/6/2014

    " Excellent, but long and dense and therefore, best read by Engineering and Cartography or History Geeks. I fit that charactrization so I enjoyed it. I recommended it to my boss and he didn't like it, but I heard him a week later talking to others about facts and interesting items he read in it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Liz | 2/4/2014

    " I loved this book. I'm not a big non fiction reader. This book was fascinating from the beginning. Ancient maps, how they were created, how America got it's name. It's all in here. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Alan | 11/26/2013

    " This is a deep and at times laborious book. I find it fascinating the level of scholarship that existed in the "dark ages". It's a thorough description of the early exploration around the world and the map making and documentation that was created and used as a result. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Jonathan Smith | 11/16/2013

    " Ultimately, I think there's only so much I can be made to care about maps. "

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About the Author
Author Toby Lester

Toby Lester is the author of The Fourth Part of the World and a contributing editor to The Atlantic. A former Peace Corps volunteer and United Nations observer, he lives in the Boston area with his wife and three daughters. His work has also appeared on the radio program This American Life.