October 23, 2009 Map That Gave America Its Name Is Subject of Book Discussion

“The Fourth Part of the World” Relates “Epic Story” of 1507 Map

Press Contact: Guy Lamolinara (202) 707-9217
Public Contact: Center for the Book (202) 707-5221

In 1507 Martin Waldseemüller created a map that depicted what was then known as “the fourth part of the world”—the other three parts being Asia, Europe and Africa. One thousand copies were printed but only one remains, discovered by accident in the library of a German castle in 1901. One hundred two years later, the Library of Congress purchased it for $10 million.

When Toby Lester heard about the map, he set out on a journey to tell the story of how the map was created and eventually came to the Library of Congress. The result is his book “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.” Lester will discuss his work on Thursday, Nov. 5, at noon in the Mary Pickford Theater, third floor, Library of Congress James Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E. The event is free and open to the public; no tickets are required.

The program is part of the Books & Beyond series of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress and is co-sponsored by the Geography and Map Division.

According to Lester, “The map offers a window on something far greater than just the story of how America got its name. It provides a novel way of understanding how, over the course of several centuries, Europeans gradually shook off long-held ideas about their world; rapidly expanded their geographical and intellectual horizons; and eventually … managed to arrive at a new understanding of the world as a whole.”

“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” will be available for sale and signing following Lester’s discussion.

Lester’s book and the importance of the Waldseemüller map are also the subject of a discussion on Facebook. The new Books & Beyond Book Club is available at www.facebook.com/booksandbeyond/ External. Presented are discussions of books whose authors have appeared or will appear in this series. The site also offers links to webcasts of these events and asks readers to talk about what they have just seen and heard.

Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution. The Library seeks to spark imagination and creativity and to further human understanding and wisdom by providing access to knowledge through its magnificent collections, programs and exhibitions. Many of the Library’s rich resources can be accessed through its website at www.loc.gov and via interactive exhibitions on a personalized website at myLOC.gov.

The Center for the Book (www.loc.gov/cfbook) was established by Congress in 1977 “to use the resources and prestige of the Library of Congress to promote books, reading, literacy and libraries.” With its many educational programs that reach readers of all ages, through its support of the National Book Festival and through its dynamic state centers in the 50 states and the District of Columbia, the Center for the Book has developed a nationwide network of organizational partners dedicated to promoting the wonders and benefits of reading. The center also oversees the new read.gov website, with its exclusive “Exquisite Corpse Adventure” serialized story.


PR 09-217
ISSN 0731-3527