Terry Earley's Reviews > 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

The Fourth Part of the World by Toby Lester
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Feb 08, 10

Read in February, 2010

This one took some time. It is an in-depth examination of map making and world exploration in the 15th and 16th century with credit given to earlier explorations and maps back to Marco Polo and others. It explains how Amerigo Vespucci name was attached to the western hemisphere instead of Columbus, largely as a result of Germanic map makers.

There are also detailed descriptions of voyages of discovery of the late 15th century of Atlantic islands, the coast of Africa, and the western hemisphere. I found these very interesting.

Though somewhat scholarly, it was still accessible to lay readers. Worth the time for me at least.

I would have appreciated a discussion however of cross-cultural influences such as that of the Chinese, who sent explorers to India, Africa and possibly around South America and into Australia and the South Seas. There are strong arguments that some of their charts found their way into the hands of Portuguese mariners and map makers by the early and mid 15th century. See Gavin Menzies work at http://1421.tv/.

Much of our knowledge continues to be Euro-centric.
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