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Download Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time Audiobook, by Dava Sobel Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (17,709 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Dava Sobel Narrator: Neil Armstrong, Kate Reading Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: October 2005 ISBN: 9780739323793
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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.... Download and start listening now!

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Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Clark Lyons | 2/16/2014

    " This book was very informative about one problem that we don't really pay attention to any more. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Noel Kelly | 2/12/2014

    " It took me a while to get around to this book but I am glad that I did. A great story of innate talent and tenacity. I would have liked more flesh on the bones of Harrison's character but the author did a fine job of telling a great forgotten story. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Brian S. | 2/2/2014

    " Quick read. Very informative. As a naval officer, I never realized how difficult fixing your position was before time could be accurately kept at sea. Furthermore, I did not realize this concept is less than 250 years old. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Crysta | 2/1/2014

    " The lack of longitude accuracy caused all kinds of problems that our GPS-enabled world can't fathom. This was an interesting tale of the centuries of science and mechanics needed to solve it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Becky | 1/30/2014

    " Who would have guessed that such a seemingly boring topic could be written about so compellingly!? I could not believe how caught up I got in this story - I mean, I'm seriously not interested in Math or Science or Clocks or Maps. Maybe one shouldn't judge a book by it's cover or it's title! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Becca | 1/29/2014

    " Totally interesting from a historical point of view. I had no idea that longitude was such a desired and jealously sought after knowledge. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kim | 1/22/2014

    " I picked this book up at work and my boss thought I was desperate to read something. But, the story on the back of the book intrigued me and so I fell to reading it. I was fascinated by the story and the scientists. It is a wonderful story about the chronometer or timekeeper and how it came to be. John Harrison gave forty years of his life to make it a possibility of a clock to show time on a ship. He persevered when all around him were scientists and astronomers trying to find the longitude by the stars, moon and the sun. He was persecuted, lied to and told that he was using witch craft. His way was different than anyone else. But, today the chronometer is basically taken for granted, after all that it had to go through. I really enjoyed reading this book and learning something new and wonderful. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Tasha | 1/13/2014

    " I had to break up the fiction, and this was fascinating. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Phillip Rhoades | 12/27/2013

    " A well written book with friendly depth of research. Quick, interesting but not as engaging as one would imagine from a "New York Times Best Seller." "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lisa Ann | 12/26/2013

    " Read this 10 years ago on a recommendation and loved it! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Charmaine | 12/15/2013

    " Fairly quick read, 175 pages or so, of interesting history. I have always wondered how seamen found their way across an ocean and now I know. This book does not contain lots of technical information but is written as if it were an after dinner discussion. Increased knowledge but not boringly so.. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Neil | 11/29/2013

    " I couldn't put this book down, it is a wonderful story and well written as this subject could easily have slipped into some dull history lesson. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Peter Kahn | 11/29/2013

    " Interesting book both in regards to how the longitude problem was solved and in how "politics" gets in the was of progress. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Marne | 11/25/2013

    " Excellent book. In this age of GPS and Google Maps it's easy to forget how hazardous travel was just a few hundred years ago. Dava Sobel shows how important and difficult it was to find the key to longitude. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mollie T | 11/21/2013

    " My favorite genre: Takes a scientific discovery and details not only the discovery but also its historical and political context. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Hillary | 11/13/2013

    " Who knew the longitude problem was so difficult. We take for granted these days things that were very difficult for navigators in ships long ago. It was interesting to see how many different strategies were tried, and how long it took to find a solution to navigating by longitude. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Kevin Fanning | 7/17/2013

    " Read about 80% and I'm just not feeling it. Interesting subject matter, but it's a slow read. It felt like the race to discover a lunar method for determining the longitude was happening in real time. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Malory | 7/13/2013

    " Best book of all time! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Keith | 4/26/2013

    " Adored this, though not nearly as much as Sobel's "Galileo's Daughter, " which is still no faint praise. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Carma Gorman | 10/6/2012

    " This veers a bit further in the direction of hero-worship than I like--get a load of that title!--but the author does an excellent job of explaining the huge importance of accurate longitude determinations for navigation (and cartography). It's an easy, enjoyable read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jonathan | 8/26/2012

    " Very enjoyable! Another British story of a genius whose science isn't accepted by the establishment. Sobel's book is full of interesting details about the solution of an ancient problem. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kelly | 6/26/2012

    " Something I have never thought about...the importance of the pocket watch. I was also fascinated to learn how we ended up with Greenwich time because of Harrison's archnemesis Maskelyne. It is a quick read, but well worth the effort. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jen | 12/19/2011

    " I wish I had read this before I visited Greenwich when we were in London last year. That said, I have to admit that I'm proud we spent so long in the museum and actually purchased the book there. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Katie Grainger | 11/24/2011

    " This book is great, really interesting and worth reading about something that was such an important discovery! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Emilia | 6/17/2011

    " What a fascinating book. I was quite amazed, and with how things work today, would have never thought what a big problem Longitude was. It not only informative, but fascinating. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Marcus | 6/14/2011

    " The potential for a dry linear telling of the story is well avoided, but it did feel that the story was drawn out further than necessary. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 David | 6/6/2011

    " Great subject and the author was wise to move the story along quickly - many of these extended New Yorker article type books have grown a little too epic in recent years "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Michelle | 6/2/2011

    " Well written and informative not boring. The subject matter was a little unusual. Just a small niche of history. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Andrew | 5/24/2011

    " I read it on an airplane yesterday, and arrived at my destination feeling like I'd learned something. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Libby | 5/13/2011

    " Read this with Eco's Island of the Day Before "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Noel | 5/11/2011

    " It took me a while to get around to this book but I am glad that I did. A great story of innate talent and tenacity. I would have liked more flesh on the bones of Harrison's character but the author did a fine job of telling a great forgotten story. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Clark | 4/25/2011

    " This book was very informative about one problem that we don't really pay attention to any more. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Amanda | 4/18/2011

    " For such a slim volume, Sobel covers a vast quantity of scientific history. I actually use the information I learned from this book nearly every day, and Sobel compellingly tells the story of the invention of sea-faring navigation. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Citizenc | 4/15/2011

    " If you have any interest at all in historical non-fiction, rivalries, inventions, or science at all I have to highly recommend this book. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lily | 4/7/2011

    " Good story on an aspect of knowledge we take for granted. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Dana | 3/26/2011

    " I really enjoyed this book. I respect sea travel more after reading this. John Harrison is a real hero. "

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About the Author
Author Dava Sobel

Dava Sobel is an accomplished writer of popular expositions of scientific topics. A 1964 graduate of the Bronx High School of Science, she attended Antioch College and the City College of New York before receiving her bachelor of arts degree from the State University of New York at Binghamton in 1969. She holds honorary doctor of letters degrees from the University of Bath, in England, and Middlebury College, Vermont, both awarded in 2002.

About the Narrator

Kate Reading is an Audie Award–winning narrator and has received numerous Earphones Awards from AudioFile magazine. She is also a theater actor in the Washington, DC, area and has been a member of the Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company since 1987. Her work onstage has been recognized by the Helen Hayes Awards Society, among others. She and her husband live in Hyattsville, Maryland, with their two children.