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The Fourth Part of the World

The Race to the Ends of the Earth
Written by: Toby Lester
Narrated by: Peter Jay Fernandez
Length: 15 hrs and 36 mins
Categories: History, World

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Publisher's Summary

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 dollars for this 6-foot by 9.5-foot antiquity and the authenticating documents found with it in 1901.
©2009 Toby Lester (P)2009 Recorded Books, LLC

What members say

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Todd
  • 19-07-10

I enjoyed it

a good listen. Although is WAS helpful to go online to view/download the various maps that are referenced to throughout the story. Actually it is absolutely required to understand what is being said. But it is easy enough to do.

8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Acteon
  • 07-12-13

A wonderful book

What did you love best about The Fourth Part of the World?

It draws together many seemingly disparate things such as cartography, Columbus, ancient astronomy, Marco Polo, sea voyages, Renaissance humanism, etc., and of course the name 'America', into a new and exciting perspective.

What did you like best about this story?

The way it draws in so many divers people and things.

Which character – as performed by Peter Jay Fernandez – was your favorite?

The young humanist Matthias Ringmann. Fernandez is an excellent reader who is engaged in what he is reading; he is among the very best. His pronunciation of foreign names are for the most part OK (he even knows Portugese). However, Waldseemüller (pronounced Wald-zay-müller) sounds like Wald-zi-müller, and the accent is misplaced in the Italian names Piccolomini and Pico della Mirandola (Picco-LO-mini and Mi-RAN-dola, not Piccolo-MI-ni and Miran-DO-la). I point this out as listeners may pick up the mispronunciations. Pierre d'Ailly (Ch.6 of the book) is properly pronounced, but it is not easy to find the correct spelling from the sound, so I mention it here for non-French-speakers. [the book chapters do not correspond to the audiobook chapters: this is a pain]

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Almost cried listening to the discovery of the long-lost map.

Any additional comments?

I had not imagined I could be so thrilled with a book whose main subject is cartography. I would not miss this book for anything.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • 14-07-14


This is a story about maps. The story’s potential for revelation falls flat in answering whether Columbus or Amerigo Vespucci were first to discover America. Toby Lester suggests neither Italian was first because North America was discovered long before 1492—maybe by Vikings (AD 1000) or maybe Chinese (AD 1421). But Lester’s book is about maps and America did not get named America until 1507.

The role of religion; the truth and fiction of early explorers like the Mongol Khans, Prester John, Marco Polo, Petrarch, and Boccaccio are played out in Lester’s narrative. Toward the end, Lester shows how the center of the universe is shifted from the earth to the sun by Copernicus.

What stands out in Lester’s story is the incredible unspoken bravery and ambition of men like Marco Polo, Columbus, and Vespucci. Even if much of what they did is exaggerated, one is awed; i.e. awed in the same way twentieth century human beings were; when Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Hans
  • 13-12-13

The minutiae of history

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

History can be presented as an interesting story, and often is. I was hoping for that.

Would you ever listen to anything by Toby Lester again?

Absolutely yes. An outstanding reader.

What about Peter Jay Fernandez’s performance did you like?

His performance made it possible to listen to most of this book. With a poor reader I wouldn't have lasted ten minutes.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Boredom. Too much detail. Far too much repetition.