Compass: A Story of Exploration and Innovation

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W. W. Norton & Company, Aug 17, 2005 - History - 320 pages

"The compass's rocky evolution is charted with an enthusiast's passion…A fascinating adventure." —Bernadette Murphy, Los Angeles Times

This is the rich history of the most important navigational device of all time, the magnetic compass, born of the need for a reliable means of negotiating treacherous sea routes around the globe. Compass chronicles the misadventures of those who attempted to perfect the instrument—so precious to sixteenth-century seamen that, by law, any man found tampering with one had his hand pinned to the mast with a dagger. Part history, part adventure, this book is a compelling tribute to human ingenuity—and the mysteries of the sea.


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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - DinadansFriend - LibraryThing

it all seems so simple when we see our first explanation of the uses of magnetism at sea. It turns out that this basic tool has a complex past, and there have had to be many adjustments. Mr. Gurney's book is a clear explanation. GPS is a tremendous advance. Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - jsoos - LibraryThing

Compass is a history of the navigational device. Very readable, the author takes us chronologically through the various inventions and inventors of the compass, its improvements, and the politics ... Read full review


Preface and Acknowledgments
The Rose of the Winds
Edmond Halley Polymath
Dr Gowin Knight and His Magnetic Machine
Any Old Iron Any Old Iron
Chapter The Flinders
Chapter An Evil So Pregnant with Mischief
The Inextricable Entangled Web
Thomsons Compass and Binnacle
A Question of Liquidity

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About the author (2005)

Alan Gurney was a former yacht designer and photographer. His books include Compass, The Race to the White Continent, and Below the Convergence: Voyages Toward Antarctica: 1699–1839.

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