Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Review: Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time by Dava Sobel

Synopsis: During the great ages of exploration, "the longitude problem" was the gravest of all scientific challenges. Lacking the ability to determine their longitude, sailors were literally lost at sea as soon as they lost sight of land. Ships ran aground on rocky shores; those traveling well-known routes were easy prey to pirates.

In 1714, England's Parliament offered a huge reward to anyone whose method of measuring longitude could be proven successful. The scientific establishment--from Galileo to Sir Isaac Newton--had mapped the heavens in its certainty of a celestial answer. In stark contrast, one man, John Harrison, dared to imagine a mechanical solution--a clock that would keep precise time at sea, something no clock had been able to do on land. And the race was on....

Review: This is precisely the sort of history book I enjoy. Short, crisp, lively - filled with interesting, concise points about an obscure subject. Sobel took what had potential to be dry dull subject and injected it with life and sparkle. Harrison was a fascinating genius and I found the author's handling of him as a person and a historical figure. I recommend this work if you are interesting in maritime history, scientific history or just general world history. It's a delightful book!

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

Date Finished: 8-24-2011
Pages: 192

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