Download Compass: A Story of Exploration and Innovation Audiobook

Compass: A Story of Exploration and Innovation Audiobook, by Alan Gurney Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: Alan Gurney Narrator: John Lee Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: December 2004 ISBN: 9781415921784
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (67 ratings) (rate this audio book)
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Bringing to life the instrument Victor Hugo called “the soul of the ship,” Alan Gurney writes a rich history of the most important navigational device of all time: the magnetic compass born out of the need for a reliable means of navigating the difficult sea routes. So indispensable to 16th-century seamen was this device that anyone found tempering with it had his hand pinned to the mast with a dagger. Though organized in loosely chronological order (with detours for particular people and events), the story begins with a modern maritime misadventure describing how when all the yacht’s high-tech navigational equipment failed, the crew had to rely on the stars. Covering a thousand years of ships, people, and events, Gurney’s story remains unfalteringly exciting and engaging. Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • Mr. Gurney does not forget the adventure, reward, and yes, danger that compelled man to explore in the first place.—Brendan Miniter, Wall Street Journal
  • A colorful line of scientists, engineers and sailors [are] described by Gurney with a novelist’s eye for detail.—American Scientist
  • [An] engaging foray into vistas and voyages of the past.—Publishers Weekly
  • Fast-paced and informative, Compass is a worthy investment. —Raymond Leach, Virginian-Pilot
  • [Gurney] tells—and clearly loves—marvelous stories of sailing and the sea. He has dug into diaries, logs, and historic accounts of catastrophic storms and battles, of the mortal perils of rocks and reefs. His sagas relate to the necessities and developments of navigation, but many are told almost cinematically.—Michael Pakenham, Baltimore Sun
  • “Looks as if it might do for magnetic north what Longitude did for, well, longitude.”

    Times (London)

  • “[An] engaging foray into vistas and voyages of the past.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “An engaging sequence of stories for the maritime set.”

    Booklist

Listener Reviews

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  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tiamat_the_red | 3/13/2013

    " Enjoyable, especially if you happen to like histories of tools like I do. Watching the evolution of such a basic thing is pretty fascinating. Interesting tidbits about the men involved and how much attention they paid to making connections with the right sorts of people. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jim | 10/24/2012

    " Great history of the evolution of this simple but critical outdoor device. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Larry | 10/12/2012

    " Good history book. Full of Knowledge we will need to know when we are the few to survive the Apocalypse. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Amanda | 5/31/2012

    " Very interesting, and much wider in scope than I ever expected. The author's style is very readable and often laugh-out-loud funny, and many of the personalities involved are stranger than any in fiction. Would be great for someone into sailing or maritime history. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Carrie | 1/27/2012

    " Boring and poorly written "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Curtiss | 11/8/2011

    " In intriguing chronicle of the development of the nautical compass. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 J. | 9/12/2011

    " a good straight forward read about the history of the development of the compass. well done without excessive detail or discursiveness. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Richie | 7/15/2011

    " Overall a fairly interesting book on the history of the compass. I think this book would have been more enjoyable had I already had an understanding of the inner-workings of a compass. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ghostchaser | 6/3/2011

    " Good history book. Full of Knowledge we will need to know when we are the few to survive the Apocalypse. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 J. | 4/12/2011

    " a good straight forward read about the history of the development of the compass. well done without excessive detail or discursiveness. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tiamat_the_red | 11/4/2009

    " Enjoyable, especially if you happen to like histories of tools like I do. Watching the evolution of such a basic thing is pretty fascinating. Interesting tidbits about the men involved and how much attention they paid to making connections with the right sorts of people. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Curtiss | 8/12/2009

    " In intriguing chronicle of the development of the nautical compass. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jim | 8/13/2008

    " Great history of the evolution of this simple but critical outdoor device. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Cheryl | 3/11/2008

    " A look into the efforts to perfect the magnetic compass during the age of sail. Entertainingly written and highly informative. "

About the Narrator

John Lee is the winner of numerous Earphones Awards and the prestigious Audie Award for Best Narration. His has twice won acclaim as AudioFile’s Best Voice in Fiction & Classics. He also narrates video games, does voice-over work, and writes plays. He is an accomplished stage actor and has written and coproduced the feature films Breathing Hard and Forfeit. He played Alydon in the 1963–64 Doctor Who serial The Daleks.