The Riddle of the Compass: The Invention that Changed the World Audiobook | Amir D. Aczel | Audible.com
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The Riddle of the Compass: The Invention that Changed the World | [Amir D. Aczel]

The Riddle of the Compass: The Invention that Changed the World

The secrets of science meet the drama of the high seas. Amir D. Aczel - the distinguished science writer behind God's Equation and Mystery of the Aleph - turns detective as he uncovers the fascinating story of the invention of the compass.
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Publisher's Summary

The secrets of science meet the drama of the high seas. Amir D. Aczel, the distinguished science writer, turns detective as he uncovers the fascinating story of the invention of the compass. It's a fabulous tale of Chinese lodestones directing the building of palaces and ancient mariners following the flights of birds to reach their destinations.

The arrival of the compass in Europe and an understanding of its potential revolutionized trade in the Mediterranean and ushered in the great Age of Exploration. Tracking down the roots of the compass and telling the story of navigation through the ages, Aczel instructs and charms as never before.

Amir Aczel is known for his ability to write delightful books about hard topics in math and science. And this is the book he was born to write. Raised on ocean liners by his ship's-captain father, the young Aczel stood at the helm and steered ships though the Mediterranean. His experience adds depth and resonance to the telling of this terrific story.

Executive Producer: Jacob Bronstein
Producer: John Wager
Produced by arrangement with Harcourt, Inc.
Original Jacket Photographs by (top) Kim Westerskov/Stone and Barry Marcus/FPG International
Original Jacket Design by Claudine Guerguerian
Author photograph by Debra Gross Aczel
©2001 by Amir Aczel
(P)2001 Random House, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Nimble writer that he is, Aczel keeps these and other topics in constant, fluid motion, like a master juggler. A compulsively readable investigation, as attracting as the magnetic north." - (Kirkus Reviews)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.6 (103 )
5 star
 (19)
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4.1 (17 )
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Story
4.0 (17 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Andy Westport, CT, United States 02-15-03
    Andy Westport, CT, United States 02-15-03 Member Since 2002
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    "so much folklore"

    This book was a facinating account of how the compass "may have" been invented. The author clearly did a lot of research into, if not determining the absolute truth, perhaps a plausible explanation of the various developments that, building upon one another, resulted in the magnetic compass.

    19 of 22 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rickapolis Annapolis, Maryland, United States 08-06-12
    Rickapolis Annapolis, Maryland, United States 08-06-12 Member Since 2010

    Rickapolis

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    "Don't pass this up"
    Any additional comments?

    I found this to be a very enjoyable listen. A lot of the specific details of the invention of the compass can never be known, so Aczel tells what is known, then goes off on different entertaining tangents of the times and places that are relevant to the story. At the end what you really know is that too much is unknowable. But it is still worth the trip. Henry Leyva does a very nice job reading, never sounding overbearing. Give this one a try. Rick.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cher Hartford, KY, USA 12-09-07
    Cher Hartford, KY, USA 12-09-07
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    "book report material"

    You will only finish this book if your kid has to write a book report. I rate it two stars because the narrator has the enthusiasm to make the Bronx Yellow Pages intriguing and because I respect the author's other works. This book will win you several rounds of Trivial Pursuit. It probably started out as an exceptional article in the New Yorker, and there it should have remained. If you so yearn for nautical knowledge, check it out at a library. If you spend money on it or use a credit, you will be disappointed. I was.

    1 of 4 people found this review helpful
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  • Peter
    Beulah, United Kingdom
    10/28/08
    Overall
    "As poor as his book 'Entanglement'"

    The author does not seem to be able to gather enough information about compasses to fill this book. He has therefore found it necessary to pad out this poorly written work with early maratime history which has little or nothing to do with the implement in question.

    In it's defence, I do know more about the history of compasses than I did before I read it, but I cannot see what the riddle is. I think the author is referring to the fact that noone knows who originally discovered the 'compass' as we know it, but as far as I can see it is an object that, like the wheel, has evolved over many, many years from basic origins to the sophisticated tool we use today, with no single inventor.

    There is no riddle to this book.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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