Dava Sobel ably tells the story of John Harrison's lifelong quest to develop an instrument capable of determining longitude in all climes.
In response to a tragic sinking which took place close to the English coast early in the 18th century, owing to the inability of a ship's captain to accurately determine longitude, Parliament offered a monetary prize to anyone who could develop and perfect an instrument to accurately determine longitude.
Sobel, in her book, describes the efforts of the scientific community in Britain to develop this instrument and contrasts it with officialdom's long disdain for Harrison's efforts to produce an accurate, all-weather instrument for gauging longitude.
This book is a compelling human drama of how a humble person's ingenuity and unwavering dedication to producing the chronometer, ensured a safe and secure way for ships to navigate the seas. Highly recommended.