Compass: A Story of Exploration and Innovation

Compass: A Story of Exploration and Innovation


By (author) Alan Gurney

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  • Publisher: WW Norton & Co
  • Format: Paperback | 320 pages
  • Dimensions: 135mm x 196mm x 23mm | 249g
  • Publication date: 17 August 2005
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 0393327132
  • ISBN 13: 9780393327137
  • Edition statement: Revised ed.
  • Sales rank: 284,010

Product description

Compass 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."

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Author information

Alan Gurney is a former yacht designer and photographer living in Suffolk, England. His previous books include Compass and Race to the White Continent.

Review quote

"Might do for the magnetic North what Longitude did for, well, longitude." The Times