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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

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5,521109786 (3.87)161
  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 161 mentions

English (102)  Spanish (3)  German (1)  Dutch (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (108)
Showing 1-5 of 102 (next | show all)
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 |
Surprisingly interesting true story of John Harrison's quest for the "Longitude Prize", and how the English government "did him dirty"! As I share his surname, I found it doubly interesting. ( )
  GTTexas | Jun 23, 2014 |
& I'd thought Galileo solved the longitude problem. Interesting account of what was once the most compelling scientific puzzle. Strange to think of all those pre late 18th c. ships bumbling around on the seas without a real clue as to location. ( )
  Paulagraph | May 25, 2014 |
When I first read this book I was absolutely fascinated by the story and in awe of John Harrison. A story that deserves to be told, but it is not so extraordinarily well told here. ( )
  themulhern | May 18, 2014 |
“The zero-degree parallel of latitude is fixed by the laws of nature, while the zero-degree meridian of longitude shifts like the sands of time.”

Many years ago I served in the Royal Navy so knew a little about longitude and latitude and their differences as well as the name John Harrison and chronometers but little about the history about each so spotting this book it seemed like a good opportunity to right that wrong.

This is a hard book to categorize. Is it history or science? In the end it does not quite fit into either category and that it is down to its brevity, about 176 pages long, which ultimately means that it lacks a certain depth. It tells the tale of a brilliant craftsman's battle against snobbery and vested interests to solve one of the biggest puzzles of his time. An uneducated Yorkshire man who ultimately succeeds against the London establishment.However, what is perhaps even more remarkable are the countless unknown sailors who were willing to cross vast oceans far away from the sight of land having no real idea as to where they were.

This is an easy as well as enjoyable read, a great introduction to the subject and there area a few interesting asides within as well. Harrison was certainly poorly treated by certain individuals however, I do feel that on a couple of occasions the author's own particular bias against the star gazers shines through a little too brightly to give a truly balanced feel. All the same give it a go, it might even make you look at your GPS enabled smart phone a little differently. ( )
  PilgrimJess | Mar 28, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 102 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (22 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Sobel, Davaprimary 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.
First words
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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:17:39 -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)

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