Sextant (2014) Sailing aficionado Barrie focuses on the instantly recognizable but largely inscrutable navigational gadget and its role in globe-altering sea voyages over the past three centuries.… 2014-05-13 Nonfiction William Morrow
Book Review

Sextant (2014)

SEXTANT David Barrie
SEXTANT David Barrie
EW's GRADE
A-

Details Release Date: May 13, 2014; Writer: David Barrie; Genre: Nonfiction; Publisher: William Morrow

Sailing aficionado Barrie focuses on the instantly recognizable but largely inscrutable navigational gadget and its role in globe-altering sea voyages over the past three centuries. The Oxford-educated author interweaves his own ripping account of an Atlantic crossing when he was 19 with historical stories of seamen such as James Cook and Beagle captain Robert FitzRoy — with his polite prose favoring the mariners' acumen over their hot-tempered reputations. (The Bounty's oft-bad-mouthed Captain Bligh gets his propers for surviving 4,000 miles of open ocean without charts.) But beneath the book's calm surface churns a melancholic message about how the comfort of technology — symbolized by the sextant's almighty antagonist, GPS — has turned our gaze away from the stars. A-

Originally posted May 14, 2014 Published in issue #1312 May 23, 2014 Order article reprints