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    Re: Books about Bowditch
    From: Brad Morris
    Date: 2010 Mar 15, 09:04 -0400

    There is also “Nevil Maskelyne” by Derek Howse.  It has been reviewed here on the list,

     

    Publisher's Note

    The work and achievements of Nevil Maskelyne, the fifth Astronomer Royal and founder of Greenwich, England as the zero point of longitude, is the focus of this unique biographical account. An accomplished navigator himself, the author has drawn from a voluminous collection of notebooks, letters and archival material to produce the only complete biography of the prominent English astronomer. Maskelyne did more to make astronomy available to navigation than any individual. His achievements were numerous; he directed the Royal Observatory for 46 years, presided over the famous tests of the Harrison chronometers, transformed the Royal Observatory into one of the finest research centers in Europe, edited the first 49 issues of the Nautical Almanac, ensured the regular publication of astronomical data, and played a leading role in solving the age-old problem of establishing longitude at sea. This unrivaled biography will fascinate historians of navigation, astronomy and horology, as well as anyone interested in late-18th century English history.

     

    I do not have a copy, nor have I read it.  I do believe that George has a copy!

     

    Best Regards

    Brad

     

     

    From: navlist-bounce@fer3.com [mailto:navlist-bounce@fer3.com] On Behalf Of Frank Reed
    Sent: Monday, March 15, 2010 8:35 AM
    To: NavList@fer3.com
    Subject: [NavList] Books about Bowditch

     

    Patrick Goold, you mentioned, "Carry on Mr. Bowditch". I enjoyed that book, too. It's a fun fictionalized biography. But beware: the accounts of the navigational advances made by Bowditch are not even close. There's a "eureka" moment in the book where he seems to have discovered the concept of lunars. It has him dancing about, waking the captain, and so on. But it wasn't that way at all. Such observations and the math used to process them had been well-known for 20 years by the time he invented (or re-invented) his interesting little mathematical trick. Bowditch didn't *write* the "New American Practical Navigator". He significantly revised Moore's "Practical Navigator". And he did a fine job, too. Of course, for a young audience, the fiction of a "eureka" moment is far more dramatic than "then he re-wrote an equation in a form that, while slightly longer, was generally easier to work". Equally problematic for a young audience was his career after his ocean voyages. He ran an insurance company for most of his life, doing math and science on the side for his own pleasure. Not exactly romantic! :-)

    There are a couple of other Bowditch biographies like "To Steer by the Stars" by Paul Rink. There's another, but the title escapes me. The only one that I would recommend is "Yankee Stargazer" by Berry, published in 1943. Despite the odd title, it's the best Bowditch biography I've read. From what I've been able to check from original sources, it's accurate, too.

    -FER


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