A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Wayfinding
From: Frank Reed
Date: 2015 Mar 14, 14:36 -0700
It's worth mentioning that at least one person, George Huxtable (*), highly knowledgeable in navigation, considered Sobel's "Longitude" a "despicable little bookling" (read here). That was way over the top, and it was an example, in part, of a major misunderstanding of the significance of lunars and Nevil Maskelyne in the history of navigation. For me Sobel's "Longitude" earned a grade of B, and its flaws were manageable. And of course its influence, a few flaws aside, was massive and overwhelmingly positive.
Incidentally, the mini-series "Longitude" with Jeremy Irons as Rupert Gould and Michael Gambon as John Harrison highlights the flaws of the original Sobel book --and in the wrong direction. Maskelyne is portrayed as an incompetent fool. He was many things, possibly a fool, but he was highly competent in his specific area of expertise. I do not recommend the mini-series, except for popcorn entertainment. But I will again recommend the Nova documentary based on Longitude, and I do recommend the recent book "Finding Longitude" as a worthy successor to Sobel's now twenty-year-old work.
Conanicut Island USA
* For those relatively new to NavList, I should note that George Huxtable passed away just over three years ago.