on 26 June 2010
During a holiday in the US I heard about the Mason Dixon Line survey and decided to find out more about it on return home to the UK. This book contains a variety of information about the lives of the two intrepid travellers, Mason and Dixon, the social life in the 18th century and the incredible detail the two men went to in order to create the famous geographic division between Pennsylvania and Maryland.
Some of the technical detail in the book can be a bit overwhelmimg for anyone without a reasonable knowledge of astronomy and geometry but much of this can be skipped over without losing the general theme of a story about two very intelligent English guys who risked their lives to create something the Americans had previously failed to do.
on 6 January 2014
I have loved Thomas Pynchon's novel Mason & Dixon for many years, and tend to read it annually, usually around Christmas which fits in with the storytelling in the novel. Having had the large and heavy hardback version since 1997 or thereabouts, I finally decided to reduce the risks of bedtime reading by getting a kindle edition. As I was searching for it, I came across Edwin Danson's historical account of the drawing of the eponymous line, which also provides some insights into the characters involved. It's a fine read in its own right as well as a good companion to the novel. As other reviewers have noted, you might need to take your time over some of the astronomical trigonometry, but you'll follow it eventually, and this will further illuminate the novel for you, if that's part of the reason you're reading it, and give you some insights into 18th century astronomy as well (go visit the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, as well, if this catches your interest).