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    Re: Bowditch biography?
    From: Frank Reed
    Date: 2010 Jan 5, 22:19 -0800

    You should also make your friend aware of "Carry On, Mr. Bowditch" which was a Newberry prize-winning biography of Bowditch written for teens back in the 1950s. It's very well-written, though naturally it seems a little "light" because of its intended market. It is by far the most famous of the biographies, but its account of navigational matters is blatant fantasy. The book by and large is not fiction in the literal sense. It's biographic history told with fictionalized vignettes. One of those vignettes comes close to saying that Bowditch himself actually invented the method of lunar distances. There's a "eureka" moment in the book that has Bowditch leaping about telling his captain all about his great new discovery. In reality, Bowditch's innovation was a small technical improvement in the math of clearing lunar distances. It was also a technique that had already been published by Mendoza y Rios, though Bowditch deserves credit for being the first to bring it to the attention of a wide audience of practical navigators. While it's possible that Bowditch even picked it up from Mendoza y Rios's prior publication (and people worried about it enough that it's denied in his epitaph years later), there's no evidence that he did, that I have been able to find, so it was probably just a case of independent invention.


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