Learn more Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Learn More Shop now Learn more Click Here Shop Kindle Learn More Shop now Shop now

Customer Review

on 15 May 2010
I picked up Dava Sobel's book "Longitude" at a second hand book sale this week of 1. This must be one of the best 1 I have ever spent - it is an excellent book which I read in just two sittings. The book is short (175 pages) - and I was already familiar with the story of John Harrison and his efforts to win the Board of Longitude prize for solving the biggest problem on the 18th century - how to determine longitude at sea. See a summary in the article John Harrison and the Longitude problem on the British National Maritime Museum website. The story of John Harrison was also made into a two part film starring Jeremy Irons and the wonderful Michael Gambon as Harrison - this film is based on Sobel's book.

Sobel does a wonderful job of describing the problem of determining Longitude at sea. She describes the numerous efforts of many inventors to claim the £20,000 prize for a "Practicable and Useful" way to help navigators at sea figure out where they are. Harrison's rivalry with the Rev Maskelyne, and his difficulties with getting his time-pieces approved by the Board of Longitude are lovingly described by Sobel, who is clearly in awe of Harrison. It is well written and extremely easy to read - as she notes in the "Sources" section at the end - the book "is intended as a popular account, not a scholarly study".

Throughout the book I felt that I would have liked to have seen some diagrams of the insides of the H-1 to H-5 clocks and watches, and to better understand what some of the parts looked like. For example, it is only now (after finishing the book) that I found out what an "escapement" is - see a description in Wikipedia. I was constantly looking back at the (small) photographs inside the front cover as a reference point. As Sobel writes on her website "Roughly one-quarter of the many letters I received after the publication of Longitude complained that the book contained no pictures, maps or diagrams". This lead her to produce "The Illustrated Longitude" with William J.H. Andrewes. I must watch out for this.

This is a wonderful true story that anybody with even a passing interest in history and science will enjoy. Recommended
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse| Permalink
What's this?

What are product links?

In the text of your review, you can link directly to any product offered on Amazon.com. To insert a product link, follow these steps:
1. Find the product you want to reference on Amazon.com
2. Copy the web address of the product
3. Click Insert product link
4. Paste the web address in the box
5. Click Select
6. Selecting the item displayed will insert text that looks like this: [[ASIN:014312854XHamlet (The Pelican Shakespeare)]]
7. When your review is displayed on Amazon.com, this text will be transformed into a hyperlink, like this:Hamlet (The Pelican Shakespeare)

You are limited to 10 product links in your review, and your link text may not be longer than 256 characters.

Please write at least one word
You must purchase at least one item from Amazon to post a comment
A problem occurred while submitting your comment. Please try again later.

There was a problem loading the comments at the moment. Please try again later.

Product Details

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
£8.99+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime