As I have mentioned previously on this blog, we do have some books that are not strictly religious. Many of these deal with Wisconsin and our Wisconsin collection (mentioned in a previous blog). We also have a decent amount of historical books, many dealing with the Holy Land and Europe, especially a goodly amount of books about medieval Europe. I want to talk about one of those books today; one that seems like it would be a boring topic and instead opens up the Time of Discovery for the reader, “The Fourth Part of the World: An Astonishing Epic of Global Discovery, Imperial Ambition, and the Birth of America,” by Toby Lester.
“Old maps lead you to strange and unexpected places, and none does so more ineluctably than the subject of this book: the giant, beguiling Waldseemüller world map of 1507.” So begins this remarkable story of the map that gave America its name. (Taken from the book description on Amazon).
“The Fourth Part of the World” is the story behind that map, a thrilling saga of geographical and intellectual exploration, full of outside thinkers and voyages. Taking a kaleidoscopic approach, Toby Lester traces the origins of our modern worldview. His narrative sweeps across continents and centuries, zeroing in on different portions of the map to reveal strands of ancient legend, Biblical prophecy, classical learning, medieval exploration, imperial ambitions, and more. In Lester’s telling the map comes alive: Marco Polo and the early Christian missionaries trek across Central Asia and China; Europe’s early humanists travel to monastic libraries to recover ancient texts; Portuguese merchants round up the first West African slaves; Christopher Columbus and Amerigo Vespucci make their epic voyages of discovery; and finally, vitally, Nicholas Copernicus makes an appearance, deducing from the new geography shown on the Waldseemüller map that the earth could not lie at the center of the cosmos. The map, literally, altered humanity’s worldview. (Taken from the book description on Amazon).
This book is a magnificent work that takes a single starting point, the Waldseemüller map, and expands to bring us into a worldview transitioning to one we are more likely to recognize today. I highly recommend it; it is one of the few books that I have given a five-star rating, too.
As always, if you have any ideas and comments for things I could change, please let me know. If you have any books that you have read or have read the books I mention, please leave a comment. We here at Salzmann also want to know what people are reading. These are always appreciated, and anything I can do to make this better I will strive my best to accomplish.
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