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Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius…
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Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest… (1995)

by Dava Sobel (Author)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5,768115735 (3.87)172
  1. 40
    The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science by Richard Holmes (Laura400)
  2. 10
    The Frozen Water Trade: A True Story by Gavin Weightman (harmen)
  3. 22
    The Island of the Day Before by Umberto Eco (polutropon)
    polutropon: Eco's book is a magical realist novel set in the Age of Exploration, in which the quest to reliably determine longitude at sea plays a pivotal role.
  4. 00
    A Short Bright Flash: Augustin Fresnel and the Birth of the Modern Lighthouse by Theresa Levitt (ALinNY458)
    ALinNY458: A Short Brief Flash is a high readable book that I thought had some parallels to the story told in Dava Sobel's fine book.
  5. 00
    Greenwich by Charles Jennings (John_Vaughan)
    John_Vaughan: An account of the invention of true chronometer and definition of Longitude.
  6. 00
    Parallax: The Race to Measure the Cosmos by Alan W. Hirshfeld (LouRead)
    LouRead: Another dramatic story of the discovery of a scientific truth, told with flair. You won't want to put it down...
  7. 00
    Genesis to Jupiter by Peter Mason (KayCliff)
  8. 01
    Map of a Nation: A Biography of the Ordnance Survey by Rachel Hewitt (John_Vaughan)
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» See also 172 mentions

English (107)  Spanish (3)  German (2)  Danish (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (114)
Showing 1-5 of 107 (next | show all)
This historical account is well written; the reading pace is good and chapters are short enough, together with a narrative that doesn't dwell on irrelevant details. On the other hand, this is not a linear chronology, because it comes back and forth in the different periods of Harrison's life. This is puzzling, at times, but if you bear in mind that this is no longer so much about Harrison's life but about the 5 clocks (H-1 to H-5), then it makes so much more sense to relate to "their" existence, rather than expanding on Harrison's life. It is a good book and, even though I read it many times already, you can't understand the fascination unless you have an interest in clockworks, history and/or engineering. I really understood the appeal of time-keeping devices better after visiting the Museum of Time in Besançon (France). ( )
  soniaandree | Jul 18, 2015 |
Aus dem Amerikanischen von Mathias Fienbork
  test_gdc | Jun 12, 2015 |
Anyone alive in the eighteenth century would have known that “the longitude problem” was the thorniest scientific dilemma of the day—and had been for centuries. Lacking the ability to measure their longitude, sailors throughout the great ages of exploration had been literally lost at sea as soon as they lost sight of land. Thousands of lives, and the increasing fortunes of nations, hung on a resolution ( )
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  Tutter | Feb 20, 2015 |
This book has hung about forever on my tbr shelf, mainly because despite knowing it was heavily illustrated and thus a quick read, I find Dava Sobel's writing to be dull. I could not read [Galileo's Daughter] despite trying over and over again, wanting it to work. Anyway - I read this in that way I do when I just want to get the basic gist of a thing. The fight for determining longitude was between the lunar method and the time method. The first depended on meticulous star charts and lunar observations. The second on a watch that would not lose time! A Board of Longitude was set up in the late 18th when it became apparent that conquering the world and getting all the loot would go to whoever figured this out first. Big prize offered and they were off! The drama focussed, in the end, between personalities as well as methods. The Royal Astronomer had the most power to determine who would get the prize and although it became apparent to the more sensible types the John Harrison's chronometer strategy was easier and more reliable, the RA's tended to be more prejudiced toward the lunar methods. It's an interesting story, in fact, and so revealing of what blind self-servings idiots some people can be. Nothing new there! The writing was bearable, the illustrations fabulous! ***1/2 ( )
  sibyx | Dec 29, 2014 |
Enjoyable account of the development of methods to measure longitude, a fairly dry subject that she makes interesting. My main complaint is that it really was no more than a long magazine article.
  amyem58 | Jul 15, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 107 (next | show all)
Ms. Sobel, a former science reporter for The New York Times, confesses in her source notes that ''for a few months at the outset, I maintained the insane idea that I could write this book without traveling to England and seeing the timekeepers firsthand.'' Eventually she did visit the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, where the four clocks that James Harrison constructed are exhibited.
She writes, ''Coming face with these machines at last -- after having read countless accounts of their construction and trial, after having seen every detail of their insides and outsides in still and moving pictures -- reduced me to tears.''
Such is the eloquence of this gem of a book that it makes you understand exactly how she felt.
 

» Add other authors (22 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Sobel, DavaAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Armstrong, NeilForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dilla Martínez, XavierTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Reading, KateNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
When I'm playful I use the meridians of longitude and parallels of latitude for a seine, and drag the Atlantic Ocean for whales. --Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi
Dedication
For my mother, Betty Gruber Sobel, a four-star navigator who can sail by the heavens but always drives by way of Canarsie.
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Once on a Wednesday excursion when I was a little girl, my father bought me a beaded wire ball that I loved.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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The history of portable time, or watch, and its important impact on navigating waters. John Harrison’s inventions of timepieces (H-1, H-2, H-3) leading up to the chronometer (H-4) in 1760 and its ability to chart longitude. John Harrison’s difficulties with the Board of Longitude in acknowledging his masterpiece.
GRÁÐUR lengdar er eftir Johan Harrison "sem varði fjörutíu árum í að smíða fullkominn tímamæli (sjóúr) og leysti eitt erfiðasta vandamál siglingafræðinnar á fyrri öldum," segir í kynningu. Sagt er frá hetjudáðum og klækjum, snilld og fáránleika, og mikilvægum þáttum í sögu stjörnufræði, siglingafræði og úrsmíða.
Bókafélagið Ölduslóð gefur bókina út. Elín Guðmundsdóttir íslenskaði. Bókin er 143 bls. Grafík prentaði. Leiðbeinandi verð: 3.280 kr.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0140258795, Paperback)

The thorniest scientific problem of the eighteenth century was how to determine longitude. Many thousands of lives had been lost at sea over the centuries due to the inability to determine an east-west position. This is the engrossing story of the clockmaker, John "Longitude" Harrison, who solved the problem that Newton and Galileo had failed to conquer, yet claimed only half the promised rich reward.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:57:49 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

During the great age of exploration, the "longitude problem" was the gravest of scientific challenges. Without the ability to determine longitude, sailors and their ships were lost at sea as soon as they lost sight of land. In 1714, desperate for a solution, England's Parliament offered 20,000 pounds (the equivalent of millions of dollars today) to anyone who could solve the problem. With all the skill and storytelling ability of a great novelist, Dava Sobel captures the dramatic story at the heart of this epic scientific quest.… (more)

» see all 10 descriptions

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