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Round About the Earth

Round About the Earth

Circumnavigation from Magellan to Orbit

In this first full history of around-the-world travel, Joyce E. Chaplin brilliantly tells the story of circumnavigation. For almost five hundred years, human beings have been finding ways to circle the Earth—by sail, steam, or liquid fuel; by cycling, driving, flying, or going into orbit; even by using their own bodily power. Round About the Earth is a witty, erudite, and colorful account of the outrageous ambitions that have inspired men and women to encircle the planet.
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  • Simon & Schuster | 
  • 560 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781416596202 | 
  • November 2013
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Video

500-year history of circumnavigation in 3 minutes

From Magellan to Sputnik, a Harvard professor's witty and erudite account of the history of circumnavigation.

Read an Excerpt

Prologue

I’ll put a girdle round about the Earth

In forty minutes . . .

—Puck, A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Imagine that you have purchased, to accompany this book, a model of a theater in which you can stage your very own around-the-world voyage. The whole setup will require special delivery because, for some reason, the theater, which is round, turns out to be about 8.25 meters in circumference (just under 9 feet across). That is only the first of several Alice-in-Wonderland surprises, as you discover when you enter the theater, which seems empty. Luckily, there is an envelope pinned... see more

About the Author

Joyce E. Chaplin
Photo by David Armitage

Joyce E. Chaplin

Joyce E. Chaplin is the James Duncan Phillips Professor of History at Harvard University. She is the author of four previous books of nonfiction, including The First Scientific American: Benjamin Franklin and the Pursuit of Genius (2006), a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize (Science and Technology Category), and winner of the Annibel Jenkins Prize of American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies.

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