• The Riddle of the Compass

  • The Invention that Changed the World
  • By: Amir D. Aczel
  • Narrated by: Henry Leyva
  • Length: 3 hrs and 18 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Release date: 09-28-01
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Random House Audio
  • 3.7 (124 ratings)

Regular price: $19.93

Free with 30-day trial
Membership details Membership details
  • A 30-day trial plus your first audiobook, free
  • 1 credit/month after trial – good for any book, any price
  • Easy exchanges – swap any book you don’t love
  • Keep your audiobooks, even if you cancel
  • After your trial, Audible is just $14.95/month
Select or Add a new payment method

Buy Now with 1 Credit

By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and Amazon's Privacy Notice. Taxes where applicable.

Buy Now for $19.93

Pay using card ending in
By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and Amazon's Privacy Notice. Taxes where applicable.

Publisher's Summary

The secrets of science meet the drama of the high seas. Amir D. Aczel, the distinguished science writer, turns detective as he uncovers the fascinating story of the invention of the compass. It's a fabulous tale of Chinese lodestones directing the building of palaces and ancient mariners following the flights of birds to reach their destinations.

The arrival of the compass in Europe and an understanding of its potential revolutionized trade in the Mediterranean and ushered in the great Age of Exploration. Tracking down the roots of the compass and telling the story of navigation through the ages, Aczel instructs and charms as never before.

Amir Aczel is known for his ability to write delightful books about hard topics in math and science. And this is the book he was born to write. Raised on ocean liners by his ship's-captain father, the young Aczel stood at the helm and steered ships though the Mediterranean. His experience adds depth and resonance to the telling of this terrific story.
Executive Producer: Jacob Bronstein
Producer: John Wager
Produced by arrangement with Harcourt, Inc.
Original Jacket Photographs by (top) Kim Westerskov/Stone and Barry Marcus/FPG International
Original Jacket Design by Claudine Guerguerian
Author photograph by Debra Gross Aczel
©2001 by Amir Aczel
(P)2001 Random House, Inc.
Show More Show Less

Critic Reviews

"Nimble writer that he is, Aczel keeps these and other topics in constant, fluid motion, like a master juggler. A compulsively readable investigation, as attracting as the magnetic north." - (Kirkus Reviews)
Show More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Andy on 02-15-03

so much folklore

This book was a facinating account of how the compass "may have" been invented. The author clearly did a lot of research into, if not determining the absolute truth, perhaps a plausible explanation of the various developments that, building upon one another, resulted in the magnetic compass.

Read More Hide me

20 of 23 people found this review helpful

By Rickapolis on 08-06-12

Don't pass this up

Any additional comments?

I found this to be a very enjoyable listen. A lot of the specific details of the invention of the compass can never be known, so Aczel tells what is known, then goes off on different entertaining tangents of the times and places that are relevant to the story. At the end what you really know is that too much is unknowable. But it is still worth the trip. Henry Leyva does a very nice job reading, never sounding overbearing. Give this one a try. Rick.

Read More Hide me

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

See all Reviews

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Peter on 10-28-08

As poor as his book 'Entanglement'

The author does not seem to be able to gather enough information about compasses to fill this book. He has therefore found it necessary to pad out this poorly written work with early maratime history which has little or nothing to do with the implement in question.

In it's defence, I do know more about the history of compasses than I did before I read it, but I cannot see what the riddle is. I think the author is referring to the fact that noone knows who originally discovered the 'compass' as we know it, but as far as I can see it is an object that, like the wheel, has evolved over many, many years from basic origins to the sophisticated tool we use today, with no single inventor.

There is no riddle to this book.

Read More Hide me

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

See all Reviews
© Copyright 1997 - 2018 Audible, Inc