From the reviews:
"This book was clearly a labor of love; Murdin has brought his passion for astronomy and its history to a topic which on the surface appears quite apart from this activity. … The publisher has supported Murdin’s effort with a physically appealing, aesthetic work, on high quality paper, complete with lovely diagrams and photographs. … I recommend it for the general reader. … For the motivated reader, the effort will be well rewarded with a picaresque journey through a relatively unknown section of scientific history." (Library Thing, May, 2009)
"The immediate impression of the book is quality … . Murdin starts the journey with a very brief introduction to the relationship between mapping latitude and longitude and the movement of astronomical bodies such as Jupiter. … Throughout the entire book, Murdin skillfully balances the technical details mapping techniques and instruments … . Overall, this book is a handsome, quality, very readable volume that deserves a prominent position in any history of science and engineering." (Library Thing, April, 2009)
"British astronomer Murdin … carefully examines the history of the Paris meridian in a work designed to highlight the adventures connected with the performance of what many might see as rather tedious research. … In a report that stretches over centuries, Murdin is careful to define terms, introduce the important characters, and include many nice illustrations. … Summing Up: Recommended. General readers." (M.-K. Hemenway, Choice, Vol. 46 (10), June, 2009)“This modestly priced volume takes us on three journeys. The first is across the globe … to discover the true figure of the Earth, and all this amid the turmoil surrounding the French Revolution. … The second journey is through time, in which the role of the meridian is discussed … . And finally, we are taken on a journey across Paris, along the meridian … provided that the book can act as a guide for those wishing to follow the trail for themselves.” (David Stickland, The Observatory, Vol. 129 (1213), December, 2009)
From the Back Cover
The Paris Meridian is the name of the line running north-south through the astronomical observatory in Paris. One of the original intentions behind the founding of the Paris Observatory was to determine and measure this line. To that end, the French government financed the Paris Academy of Sciences to do so in the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries employing both astronomers – people who study and measure the stars – and geodesists – people who study and measure the Earth. This book is about what they did and why.
Full Meridian of Glory is the first English language presentation of this historical material in its entirety. It is an attractively written story of the scientists who created the Paris Meridian. They collaborated and worked together in alliances, like scientists everywhere; they also split into warring factions. They transcended national and political disputes, as scientists do now, their eyes fixed on ideals of accuracy, truth and objectivity. Yet also when their work served national interests they were sometimes less than neutral, and if their work was questioned they sometimes blindly descended into petty politics.
This book tells the story of the adventures in France, in Spain, in Lapland and in Ecuador of the scientists who worked through revolution, war, rebellion, piracy, fire, shipwreck, blockade, snow, tropical heat, kidnapping, murder and turbulent love affairs to pursue a problem of map making. They turned that practical problem into a crucial scientific test of one of the most important intellectual problems of their time – Newton’s theory of universal gravitation. Their work changed their own lives, affected the course of science and politics, and left its mark on the landscape, the art and the literature of history and in our own age.