During the great ages of exploration, "the longitude problem" was the gravest of all scientific challenges. Lacking the ability to determine their longitude, sailors were literally lost at sea as soon as they lost sight of land. Ships ran aground on rocky shores; those traveling well-known routes were easy prey to pirates.
In 1714, England's Parliament offered a huge reward to anyone whose method of measuring longitude could be proven successful. The scientific establishment--from Galileo to Sir Isaac Newton--had mapped the heavens in its certainty of a celestial answer. In stark contrast, one man, John Harrison, dared to imagine a mechanical solution--a clock that would keep precise time at sea, something no clock had been able to do on land. And the race was on....
Any additional comments?
To really absorb this story I would recommend seeing the movie first, so you can put faces to the names in this great historical event. Dava's love of the subject is well written and read well. Hearing the prologue from Neil Armstrong about his love of the stars and his on quest to see the real clocks in England is thrilling in its self. I was a young teenager when he walked on the moon, and only know his famous words. If you have any maritime experience or any kind of navigational interest this is a must read for the knowledge it contains!
10 of 11 people found this review helpful
Longitude is a superb book about the quest to solve one of the most difficult scientific challenges of the 17th and 18th centuries, and one, moreover, that caused thousands of deaths.
Kate Reading's narration is accurate and clear, and lends itself well to the story.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
thoroughly enjoyed this work. recommended reading. will look forward to reading again. thank you John Harrison!
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
I had listened to a podcast of an author interview of Dava Sobel on Writers and Company from CBC radio. She was mostly talking about her interest in astronomy and how it led to writing about interesting people in astronomy history. This book is about the contest started by the British government to find an accurate way to determine longitude. They could already determine latitude. Too many ships were being lost and men lost so it was vital do find a better way to navigate the seas. Sobel tells the story of John Harrison and his clocks. Apparently at the time there were two methods being explored: the tracking of moon and stares and the method of time. As usual the two methods fought each other and sabotage one another so it makes for an interesting story. Both methods were used and still are used today even with the use of GPS. Neil Armstrong gave the opening which was very interesting. Kate Reading did a good job with the narration of the story. If you are interested in navigation, history or science this is a book for you.
8 of 10 people found this review helpful
loved this book. it was elegant in delivery beautiful in concept. the story very compelling.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
This is one of the audio books that is done right. Great story and great performance.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Many years ago, I visited the Royal Observatory Greenwich and was fascinated by the exhibits of John Harrison's clocks and their importance to navigation. "Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time" tells the remarkable story of the clock's inventor, John Harrison. While the story is itself fascinating, Dava Sobel is a poor writer and the book reads something like a high school textbook. Fortunately, the book is short and the facts of Harrison's life carry the day. Unfortunately, the reader is so poor that she distracts from the book.
3 of 5 people found this review helpful
I doubt I will forget why the Longitude is so important and when reading books published in that time period of uncertainty i will understand their references better.
This book is surprisingly long for its short length, as there are some details I just didn't care about, and the narrator wasn't awful, but kept almost putting me to sleep. It's still a mostly fun voyage into an interesting slice of history.
liked it a lot. Very well narrated. A must read for seamen and watch aficionados alike.