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Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time Paperback – Oct 30 2007


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Walker & Company; 1 edition (Oct. 30 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007790163
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007790166
  • ASIN: 080271529X
  • Product Dimensions: 12 x 1.7 x 18.7 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 159 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (247 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #94,886 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Amazon

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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

This look at the scientific quest to find a way for ships at sea to determine their longitude was a PW bestseller for eight weeks.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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First Sentence
Once on a Wednesday excursion when I was a little girl, my father bought me a beaded wire ball that I loved. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By mirasreviews on April 1 2004
Format: Paperback
So as not to repeat myself and try the patience of those customers who have already read "Longitude", I will confine my comments to the additional material in the illustrated version. If you haven't read "Longitude", it's a great little book, and I refer you to reviews by myself and others on that book's page.
"The Illustrated Longitude" contains the entire original text of Dava Sobel's book, "Longitude", along with 178 illustrations provided by William J. H. Andrewes. Mr. Andrewes hosted the Longitude Symposium that inspired Dava Sobel's book and has himself published the annotated proceedings of the Symposium in his book entitled "The Quest for Longitude". The illustrations in this book consist of portraits of people and photographs of documents and instruments which are referenced in the text. The documents include maps, journals, pages of books, and official decrees. Nearly every major player in the Longitude drama is represented with at least one portrait. Most fascinating are the photographs of the time pieces, themselves. I found the illustrations to be only mildly interesting until I got to the discussion of John Harrison's longitude clocks. At this point, I was astonished to see how grand and beautiful H-1 was...and still is, and how small and elegant H-4 is in contrast. I found it difficult to picture Harrison's clocks while reading Dava Sobel's book, and the ability to see them in this illustrated version has left me even more impressed with Mr. Harrison's work. All of Harrison's clocks are represented with large color photographs, and many of the later copies of his works by Larcum Kendall, Thomas Mudge, John Arnold, and Thomas Earnshaw are also pictured.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on Feb. 14 2002
Format: Hardcover
This book is a beautiful coffee-table edition of the original book published in 1995. It's a historical account of the quest to solve the toughest scientific problem of the 17th and 18th centuries. It presents the story of John Harrison, who solved the problem by creating a timepiece that could keep precise time at sea - today known as the chronometer.
This 1998 edition contains reproductions of a large number of historical documents, charts, and portraits and includes an incredible collection of photos of timekeeping and navigational instruments. Together with a 4-video set of an expertly produced program by A&E, starring Jeremy Irons, this is a fabulous addition to any maritime books collections.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By K Scheffler on Oct. 6 2004
Format: Paperback
I found this book to be a great read and quite informative. The topic is not something that I usually concern myself with, but when I came across the book awhile back, I figured that someday I should read it; that day came, and I'm quite glad I did. It's made me aware of a man I was heretofore not familiar with--John Harrison--and the significance of his inventions. What he accomplished was truly revolutionary, and his story deserves to be known; this highly readable account apptly serves that purpose.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Kevin C. B. on Jan. 31 2004
Format: Hardcover
Longitude certainly isn't a bad story, just a somewhat constrained one. Within the scope of the book, the story is interesting and well researched. However, one should note that there is a bit more to the history of this solution for dependable navigation due to the problem of longitude than Dava Sobel adresses in this small history. This does not detract from the observation that Longitude is an entertaining and informative (and factually accurate) read nonetheless.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Rob Slaven TOP 50 REVIEWER on Jan. 25 2014
Format: Paperback
I picked up this very little gem at a library book sale, so the first thing to note is that there are copies everywhere, so don't by any means bother to pay full price for one. Second most important is to note that there are apparently two versions. There are those, like mine, that have never even heard of the idea of an illustration. More illuminatingly, there is an illustrated version. Be aware of which you're getting. Thirdly, observe if you will just how short this book is. It's a couple hours reading at best.

Moving on to the usual format of Good and Bad, the only real negative I would apply here is that it does at times seem a bit scattered, as if a good central idea was stretched a bit beyond its proper length. It just seems to meander rather randomly at times.

On the vast positive side, there are all sorts of delicious tidbits from history. So much so that it spurred me to write a blog entry just from the first few dozen pages. I'll reproduce it at the end as an illustration but in summary a very informative book filled with delightful anecdotes.

***

Tonight's reading of Dava Sobel's book `Longitude' reminded me of one of my favorite great 'difficulties' from history. Specifically, just how hard it has been throughout mankind's existence to tell what exactly the time is. It is one of the most bedeviling of problems, since we live on a sphere and the motion of the sun and moon define the very concept of time for us. Unfortunately, twelve noon in New York looks exactly like twelve noon in New Delhi.
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