Dava Sobel’s book follows the life of English clockmaker John Harrison, who learned himself the trade and spent his whole life trying to find a solution to the “longitude problem.”
he inability to pinpoint a ship’s location at sea was a major cause of disaster for sailors in the 18th century. The solution to this issue relied on the development of a marine chronometer, a precise timepiece that could resist the harsh conditions of life at sea. The story of “Longitude” revolves on Harrison’s efforts to construct such a clock and the opposition he encountered from the scientific establishment of his day.
Sobel’s writing style is enjoyable to read and makes even difficult scientific and historical themes understandable to the reader. By interweaving historical tales and personal anecdotes, she gives life to the persons, places, and importance of the longitude issue. The book also gives readers a window into the exciting world of 18th-century marine adventure, scientific discovery, and the race to address a critical technical problem.
For anyone with an interest in history, science, and adventure, “Longitude” is an excellent, fast read. The book’s skill in making the history of science accessible and interesting also won it significant acclaim.
In conclusion, Dava Sobel’s “Longitude” is a fascinating and critically acclaimed look at the development of science, exploration, and one man’s dogged determination to find a solution to a pressing issue. It’s essential reading for anybody curious in how science and history relate to the will to succeed in the face of adversity.