Longitude by Dava Sobel: Book Review

Are you ready to embark on a journey through time and space, exploring the fascinating story of how a humble clock changed the course of history? Join me as we delve into the captivating world of “Longitude” by Dava Sobel.

Sneak Peak

“Longitude” by Dava Sobel is a gripping non-fiction book that tells the tale of John Harrison, an English carpenter who dedicated his life to solving the problem of determining a ship’s longitude at sea. In the 18th century, ships often got lost at sea due to the lack of an accurate method to measure longitude, leading to tragic shipwrecks and lost lives. Harrison’s revolutionary invention of a marine chronometer, a highly accurate clock that could keep time at sea, changed maritime navigation forever.

My Take

I found “Longitude” to be a captivating and enlightening read. Sobel expertly weaves together historical facts with engaging storytelling, making complex astronomical and navigational concepts easy to understand. The determination and ingenuity displayed by John Harrison in the face of skepticism and adversity are truly inspiring. The book vividly portrays the challenges he faced in gaining recognition for his groundbreaking invention and the ultimate triumph of precision timekeeping in determining longitude.

One of the aspects I truly appreciated about the book was how Sobel brought to life the historical context and significance of the longitude problem. She skillfully explores the competition, politics, and scientific advancements of the time, painting a rich picture of 18th-century society and the quest for scientific progress.

What Makes the Book Unique

“Longitude” stands out for its ability to take a seemingly niche topic like longitude measurement and turn it into a compelling narrative that appeals to a wide audience. Sobel’s skill in making a technical subject accessible and engaging is commendable. Moreover, the book sheds light on a lesser-known historical figure, John Harrison, and his remarkable contribution to the field of navigation, offering readers a fresh perspective on the history of science.


In conclusion, “Longitude” is a gem of a book that combines history, science, and a gripping tale of human perseverance. I highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in history, science, or simply a good story well-told. With its blend of scholarly research and narrative flair, “Longitude” is a must-read that will leave you enlightened and inspired.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

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