Debbie's Reviews > Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time

Longitude by Dava Sobel
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's review
Dec 01, 09

bookshelves: historical, non-fiction
Read in November, 2009

"Longitude" is an enjoyable, easy-to-read and understand overview of the events surrounding "the longitude problem," including the various solutions proposed, the political and scientific rivalry involved in the quest for the prize, and the scientific advances that occurred in pursuit of the solution.

The book doesn't really go into depth on how the clock was created. Apparently no one really knows how John Harrison solved each challenge in keeping perfect time while at sea. But we're told the solution found in his finished products even if we don't learn the process of how he got there.

I found very interesting the overview of sea navigation at that time and the scientific advances that came about while in pursuit of the longitude prize money. I also enjoyed learning why Greenwich became the 0 degree longitude line and time-setter for the world.

While I thought the author did a wonderful job describing what the various clocks looked like, I'm glad that pictures of John Harrison and several of his clocks were shown on the front cover of the book. The book doesn't contain pictures or diagrams. (I didn't mind, though, since the clock innards were apparently confusingly complex so pictures of that wouldn't have been enlightening.)

Overall, I enjoyed this book. I'd recommend this quick read to anyone interested in an overview of the longitude problem, the solutions proposed, and how Harrison's clock eventually came to 'rule the seas.'
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