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"The compass' rocky evolution is charted with an enthusiast's passion....A fascinating adventure."―Bernadette Murphy, Los Angeles TimesCompass chronicles the misadventures of those who attempted to perfect the magnetic compass―so precious to sixteenth-century seamen that, by law, any man found tampering with it had his hand pinned to the mast with a dagger. From the time man first took to the seas until only one thousand years ago, sight and winds were the sailor's only navigational aids. It was not until the development of the compass that maps and charts could be used with any accuracy―even so, it would be hundreds of years and thousands of shipwrecks before the marvelous instrument was perfected. And its history up to modern times is filled with the stories of disasters that befell sailors who misused it. In this page-turning history of man's search for reliable navigation of treacherous sea routes around the globe, Alan Gurney brings to life the instrument Victor Hugo called "the soul of the ship." 20 illustrations.
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Alan Gurney is a former yacht designer and photographer living in Suffolk, England. His previous books include Compass and Race to the White Continent.From AudioFile:
What happens if you're in the middle of the English Channel and you don't know in what direction you're heading? Likely as not, you'll crash on an inopportune rock. Pull out your trusty compass, though, and you may make it home safe. Alan Gurney has written a fascinating history of the magnetic compass, and John Lee, whose voice simply sounds briny, reads it beautifully. From the discovery of the magnetic lodestone in the twelfth century through 600 years of attempts, some crazy, some brilliant, to make it easy to use, Gurney and Lee keep us tied to the mast. Gurney includes rollicking adventure and informative historical digressions, and Lee reads both with ease. He also sounds as interested in chapters about testing a lodestone's properties as about crashing and burning on the Scilly Islands; his interest keeps listeners interested. This is an educational book that is also useful for cocktail-party chatter. So, how long MUST a needle rest on a lodestone in order to become magnetized? A.C.S. © AudioFile 2005, Portland, Maine-- Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine
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