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Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time Paperback – October 30, 2007
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“This is a gem of a book.” ―Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, New York Times
“A simple tale, brilliantly told.” ―Washington Post Book World
“As much a tale of intrigue as it is of science…A book full of gems for anyone interested in history, geography, astronomy, navigation, clockmaking, and--not the least--plain old human ambition and greed.” ―Philadelphia Inquirer
“Only someone with Dava Sobel's unusual background in both astronomy and psychology could have written it. Longitude is a wonderful story, wonderfully told.” ―Diane Ackerman, author of A Natural History of the Senses
“The marine chronometer is a glorious and fascinating object, but it is not a simple one, and its explanation calls for a writer as skilled with words as the watchmakers were with their tools; happily such a writer has been found in Dava Sobel.” ―Patrick O'Brian, author of The Commodore and the Aubrey/Maturin series
About the Author
Dava Sobel is the bestselling author of Longitude, Galileo's Daughter, and The Planets, coauthor of The Illustrated Longitude, and editor of Letters to Father. She lives in East Hampton, New York.
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After reading a book about Mason and Dixon and all of the incredibly (for me) complex math and astronomy involved, I was slow to begin this book. Author Dava Sobel, however, cuts through all the more complicated principles like a good pre-calculus teacher. I would even suggest this book could appeal to adventurous 8th graders. The history is impressive. The Harrison family were watchmakers, but as very precise and diligent watchmakers competitive with the Royal Society and haughty astronomers like Nevil Maskelyne. John Harrison had size, cost, material, temperature fluctuations, moisture, waves, and many more atmospheric obstacles to confront while those relying on lunar readings went much further to produce much less. For the record, I had never heard of John Harrison. His predecessors include Halley, Tycho Brahe, and Galileo, whose attempts to time the speed of light is briefly retold here.
This is summer reading, a hero's tale, good defeating bad, The Little Engine that Could. If you or your child is interested in sailing, navigation, astronomy, inventions, machining, or how the British came to rule the word for a time, this is a book to read and re-read.
The books paints the complex story of Harrison's Great achievements and does so in an easy to read format.
Sorbel writes enthusiastically and holds attention without including extraneous detail which might bog down the reading, and after reading Longitude the second time- now I want to go back to the observatory and also to the clock museum in Guildhall, which I did not see.
The science of positioning on the Earth is fascinating and anyone who finds global positioning and astronomy intriguing should read this book