• by Alan Gurney
  • Narrated by John Lee
  • 7 hrs and 9 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

This book chronicles the misadventures of those who attempted to perfect the compass, an instrument so precious to 16-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 1,000 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.


What the Critics Say

"An engaging sequence of stories for the maritime set." (Booklist)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful


This book reminds me of old college professors who are able to drain every bit of life out of their subject despite their passion for the material. The story doesn't seem to have an overarching narrative to hold it together. Well, it does, nominally, but it doesn't really work, at least in my oppinion; I nearly gave up on the book a few times. The narrator's crisp Scottish (I believe) accent was the most redeeming feature of this audiobook. One thing I would recommend would be to listen to the appendix at the end of the book first for definitions and such.
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- Steve Bird

Book Details

  • Release Date: 01-19-2005
  • Publisher: Books on Tape