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In the tradition of Dava Sobel’s Longitude comes sailing expert David Barrie’s compelling and dramatic tale of invention and discovery—an eloquent elegy to one of the most important navigational instruments ever created, and to the daring mariners who used it to explore, conquer, and map the world.
Barrie takes readers straight to the helm of some of history’s most important expeditions, interweaving these heroic tales with the account of his own transatlantic passage as a young man. Among the many inspiring stories are those of the legendary Captain Cook and the great French navigator Jean-François de Galaup, comte de La Pérouse, whose disappearance has long remained a mystery. Other intrepid navigators include George Vancouver, the indefatigable surveyor of the American northwest; Matthew Flinders, the first to circumnavigate Australia; and Captain Robert FitzRoy of the Beagle. And, along with Joshua Slocum’s single-handed yacht voyage around the world, we are told of two almost unbelievable open-boat voyages, undertaken in desperate circumstances by Captain William Bligh and Sir Ernest Shackleton.
A heady mix of adventure, science, mathematics, and derring-do, Sextant is infused with a sense of wonder and discovery. At once a dramatic history of maritime endeavor and a love letter to the sea and sky, it is timeless storytelling at its best.