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Publisher's Summary

An exciting scientific adventure from the days of wooden ships and iron men, Longitude is full of heroism and chicanery, brilliance and the absurd. It is also a captivating brief history of astronomy, navigation and clockmaking.

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....

©2005 Dava Sobel (P)2009 Random House

What listeners say about Longitude

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    5 out of 5 stars

To hear Neil Armstongs Voice

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!

18 people found this helpful

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Masterful.

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.

6 people found this helpful

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navigators gem

thoroughly enjoyed this work. recommended reading. will look forward to reading again. thank you John Harrison!

3 people found this helpful

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The finding of Longitude

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.

9 people found this helpful

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wonderful tale. Terrible narrator.

Hearing this book was a marvelous and moving experience.
However the narrator spoke too quickly in a flat disinterested monotonous tone that spoiled my pleasure.

2 people found this helpful

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Fascinating!

This is one of the audio books that is done right. Great story and great performance.

2 people found this helpful

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Wonderful Reader for a Story We Shouldn't Forget

This is a wonderful story. I loved it from the point of view of a researcher. I loved it from the point of view as a history buff. I loved it from the point of view as a person who appreciates hearing of human stories and emotions.

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A Word to the Wiseise

This is a pretty good book BUT, if you don't have more than a general interest in the history of man's efforts to find his way from "A" to "B", you probably won't enjoy. I learned a few things but over all it was slow and a little boring.

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Never lost interest

Being a mathematician, astronomer, and general naturalist, I found the book captivating from all those aspects. Very well read. Never lost interest.

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Interesting

As a travel lover and Eagle Scout the idea of route-finding as a major hurdle was fascinating. I never thought of a watch having such a major influence on the world.

1 person found this helpful