"Longitude" by Dava Sobel. A Review

LongitudeLongitude by Dava Sobel
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It was a pleasant gift out of the blue. But someone thought enough of me that when they saw a copy at the half-price bookstore, they snagged it and bequeathed it to me. And what a delightful read it was. Who would have thought that watches, discovering a sure means of finding longitude, and human drama could be so informative and fun?!?! But this little volume is all of those things, and more.

The vast majority of the true tale treads water in 18th Century Europe, primarily France and England. There are a few pages with background history and after-action reporting, but the weight of the book dwells in those scientifically pregnant years in the early to mid 1700s, when much was gestating and being delivered. This tiny manuscript focuses on John Harrison, and his newfangled contraptions for finding longitude on-board ship. But other discoveries were being made around the same goal, and the author gives them their due.

Dava Sobel, a former New York Times science reporter, and author of numerous articles and scientific biographies and chronicles, has turned what could have been a dry narrative, into something of a thriller! These pages are penned for most audiences from younger to oldest. If you would like to track down an intriguing piece of our technical and maritime history, this is a book for you. Maybe you're looking for an easy biographical read in an area you're unfamiliar with; then "Longitude" is just the thing. I happily recommend the book.

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