Pam's Reviews > Carry On, Mr. Bowditch

Carry On, Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham
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's review
Mar 01, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: children-s, non-fiction, favorites, history-of-science-and-innovation

I loved this book! A fantastic, engrossing tale of a brilliant mathematician and seaman, a real-life Johnny Tremain. Born and raised in Salem, MA, Nathaniel Bowditch was brilliant but becalmed by circumstance. Instead of preparing to attend Harvard, he was indentured at the age of 12. Through his own fortitude and determination, and endowed with eye-watering intelligence, Bowditch taught himself Latin, French, Spanish and worked his way through Newton's Principia. The story lays out the hardships of life in the 18th and 19th centuries with the intersections of death, poverty, and the sea. It is an inspiring Horatio Algeresque story but the importance of Bowditch should not be underrated. Even today all students at the Naval Academy are given a copy of Bowditch's book. His contributions were tremendous and paved the way toward an integrated, global economy.

I had thought it might be dull and plodding story, as I often find books written in the earlier part of the last century. My curiosity was piqued when Halsy's Typhoon mentioned Bowditch a handful of times. When the librarian at school spoke so highly of the book, I gave it a try. It surpassed my expectations, and clearly showed why this book was given the Newbery Medal. What a gem

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message 1: by Pete (new) - added it

Pete Not only are all students of the Academy given his book, they are required to learn and demonstrate celestial navigation using his methods (I see them practicing). Additionally, a sextant and a copy of Bowditch are mandatory equipment on every deep water vessel. You cannot overstate his effect on modern seafaring.

Thanks for calling this to my attention, Pam, its on my to read list.

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