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
In 2001, the Library of Congress paid $10 million for the only known complete copy of the Waldseemuller Map, a 12 section map of the (then) known world printed in 1507 by German cartographer Martin Waldseemuller. The significance of the map lies in the fact that it is the first known map to have the word ‘America’ printed on it. However, in 1507 what was known and labeled ‘America’ was not what we consider the United States, nor did it even refer to anywhere in North America. In 1507 ‘America’ was the (so far) explored regions of South America, and more specifically, the coast and immediate hinterland of what is now Brazil. Toby Lester’s fascinating story detailing the people, events, facts, and philosophies which culminated in the creating of the map is a wonderful potpourri (cartographcial history, medieval cosmography, mathematics, exlporation, adventurous travelogue) with a cast that includes Ptolemy, Columbus, Marco Polo, and last but not least, Amerigo Vespucci.