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Customer Review

3 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Neither here nor there..., 25 Oct 2006
This review is from: Longitude (Paperback)
Dava Sobel writes with such clarity and passion for her subject that I found myself easily drawn into this engaging subject.

I am especially interested in the history of sea-faring navigation. Her tale reminded me of my own perilous journey to England. It was on board Segnor Torres' yacht from Club Reggato in Valencia all the way to the British Legion, Clacton-on-Sea, back in 1973.

Now, whilst James Cook had the advantage of Harrison's latest chronometers we were less well prepared. Our plan to combine a wax-coated lead fathometer with dead-reckoning to track our Eastward drift, spectacularly failed when cloudy skies persisted throughout the 17 day voyage. Hopelessly adrift around 30 degrees North-West of Portugal, my desperate suggestion to release the precious cage of Ravens and observe their behaviour met with distain.

Nevertheless I remain inspired by John Harrison's dogged persistence. Inspired by Sobel's book in supportive of the underdog, and in honour of George III, I recently undertook a visit to the Maritime Museum at Greenwich. Although the steep hill leading up to Flamstead House necessitated recruiting help with my wheelchair, we made it to the top without incident.

I was kindly carried up the narrow winding staircase to the exhibition on the first floor by two ageing Sea Cadets. I was pleased to be able to return the favour by providing them with the telephone number of the Disability Claims Helpline of the War Pensions department, c/o `HMS Liverpool'; although the ships current deployment in the Adriatic may delay things somewhat. Nevertheless, they generally respond quickly to my annual bonus winter-payment enquiries, now that I've fully mastered Morse code.

To sum up: Sobel demonstrates with aplomb how the seminal Longitude Act of 1714 was a seismic sea-change (sic) in global navigability; a precursor to our global travel industry of today. Her fictional-prose style of factual writing is thoroughly absorbing, and I commend this book to you.

FS.
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