Long before GPS, Google Earth, and global transit, humans traveled vast distances using only environmental clues and simple instruments. John Huth asks what is lost when modern technology substitutes for our innate capacity to find our way. Encyclopedic in breadth, weaving together astronomy, meteorology, oceanography, and ethnography, The Lost Art of Finding Our Way puts us in the shoes, ships, and sleds of early navigators for whom paying close attention to the environment around them was, quite literally, a matter of life and death.
Haunted by the fate of two young kayakers lost in a fogbank off Nantucket, Huth shows us how to navigate using natural phenomena-the way the Vikings used the sunstone to detect polarization of sunlight, and Arab traders learned to sail into the wind, and Pacific Islanders used underwater lightning and "read" waves to guide their explorations. Huth reminds us that we are all navigators capable of learning techniques ranging from the simplest to the most sophisticated skills of direction-finding. Even today, careful observation of the sun and moon, tides and ocean currents, weather and atmospheric effects can be all we need to find our way.
Lavishly illustrated with nearly 200 specially prepared drawings, Huth's compelling account of the cultures of navigation will engross readers in a narrative that is part scientific treatise, part personal travelogue, and part vivid re-creation of navigational history. Seeing through the eyes of past voyagers, we bring our own world into sharper view.
One of the repeated themes of The Lost Art of Finding Our Way is that even the most confused of us can improve our navigational understanding by paying closer attention to the world around us... A learned and encyclopedic grab bag, packed with information drawn from study and Huth's own experience.--Michael Dirda"Washington Post" (06/13/2013)
It's a great reference, filled with personal and historical anecdotes and fascinating bits of physics, astronomy, oceanography, and meteorology. And that's one of Huth's central points: To find your way in a world without maps, you can't rely on any single cue--you need to make the best of whatever combination of cues is available to you... With a little study, The Lost Art of Finding Our Way could be your guide to reconnecting with the navigational aids in the world around you.-- (09/05/2013)
John Huth's The Lost Art of Finding Our Way is a book for anyone who's ever cursed themselves for not being able to get home by way of the stars and winds. Or for anyone who wants to learn how the Vikings and others once managed to.-- (06/13/2014)
The book offers a clear, comprehensive, and entertaining short course in navigation that draws on Earth science, history, anthropology, neuroscience, archaeology, and linguistics. It provides both a primer on navigational techniques and a tour through 'the historical evolution of way finding.' Huth punctuates instruction on celestial navigation and reading wind, weather, and currents with engaging stories and images. These are derived from sources as varied as the oral histories of Pacific Islanders and Inuit hunters, Homer's Odyssey, Icelandic sagas, navigational tables from the medieval Islamic world, and contemporary news reports and sailing accounts.-- (08/09/2013)
Humanity's lust for exploring terra incognita shaped and tested our prodigious capacity for mental mapping. Now, with the advent of the Global Positioning System, wayfaring skills are on the wane. Physicist John Edward Huth turns explorer in this rich, wide-ranging and lucidly illustrated primer on how to find yourself in the middle of somewhere. Huth's prescription for navigating fog, darkness, open ocean, thick forests or unknown terrain rests first on harnessing compass, Sun and stars; then on the subtleties of weather forecasting and decoding markers such as the wind, waves and tides.-- (05/02/2013)