25 Books to Read Before You Die
 
 

Recently Viewed clear list


The Powell's Playlist | August 8, 2014

Peter Mendelsund: IMG The Powell's Playlist: Water Music by Peter Mendelsund



We "see" when we read, and we "see" when we listen. There are many ways in which music can create the cross-sensory experience of this seeing...... Continue »
  1. $11.87 Sale Trade Paper add to wish list

spacer
Qualifying orders ship free.
$5.95
Used Hardcover
Ships in 1 to 3 days
Add to Wishlist
Qty Store Section
1 Local Warehouse Science Reference- Meterorology

Defining the Wind: The Beaufort Scale, and How a 19th-Century Admiral Turned Science Into Poetry

by

Defining the Wind: The Beaufort Scale, and How a 19th-Century Admiral Turned Science Into Poetry Cover

 

Staff Pick


Recommended by Michal D., Powells.com

Scott Huler's infatuation with the Beaufort Wind Scale borders on the obsessive. And his fascination with it is infectious. More than a skillfully written portrait of Sir Francis Beaufort and the scale that bears his name, Defining the Wind represents years of Huler's research into the history of science. Writing with both humor and wit, Huler gives us a wonderful tale of exploration, nature, and history, not to mention an appreciation of science as a way of making sense of our world.
Recommended by Michal D., Powells.com

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

“Nature, rightly questioned, never lies.” — A Manual of Scientific Enquiry, Third Edition, 1859

Scott Huler was working as a copy editor for a small publisher when he stumbled across the Beaufort Wind Scale in his Merriam Webster Collegiate Dictionary. It was one of those moments of discovery that writers live for. Written centuries ago, its 110 words launched Huler on a remarkable journey over land and sea into a fascinating world of explorers, mariners, scientists, and writers. After falling in love with what he decided was “the best, clearest, and most vigorous piece of descriptive writing I had ever seen,” Huler went in search of Admiral Francis Beaufort himself: hydrographer to the British Admiralty, man of science, and author — Huler assumed — of the Beaufort Wind Scale. But what Huler discovered is that the scale that carries Beaufort’s name has a long and complex evolution, and to properly understand it he had to keep reaching farther back in history, into the lives and works of figures from Daniel Defoe and Charles Darwin to Captains Bligh, of the Bounty, and Cook, of the Endeavor.

As hydrographer to the British Admiralty it was Beaufort’s job to track the information that ships relied on: where to lay anchor, descriptions of ports, information about fortification, religion, and trade. But what came to fascinate Huler most about Beaufort was his obsession for observing things and communicating to others what the world looked like.

Huler’s research landed him in one of the most fascinating and rich periods of history, because all around the world in the mid-eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, in a grand, expansive period, modern science was being invented every day. These scientific advancements encompassed not only vast leaps in understanding but also how scientific innovation was expressed and even organized, including such enduring developments as the scale Anders Celsius created to simplify how Gabriel Fahrenheit measured temperature; the French-designed metric system; and the Gregorian calendar adopted by France and Great Britain. To Huler, Beaufort came to embody that passion for scientific observation and categorization; indeed Beaufort became the great scientific networker of his time. It was he, for example, who was tapped to lead the search for a naturalist in the 1830s to accompany the crew of the Beagle; he recommended a young naturalist named Charles Darwin.

Defining the Wind is a wonderfully readable, often humorous, and always rich story that is ultimately about how we observe the forces of nature and the world around us.

Review:

"While working as a copy editor two decades ago, Huler chanced across the Beaufort scale in Merriam-Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary. He was entranced by the scale's 'quintessence of... verbal economy, the ultimate expression of concise, clear, and absolutely powerful writing, 110 words in six-point type' that describe the varieties of wind from 'calm' to 'hurricane.' Huler soon turned to a successful career as a writer and NPR contributor, but the Beaufort scale stuck with him, and he decided to learn more about the man whose definition of a 'strong breeze' reads: 'large branches in motion; telegraph wires whistle; umbrellas used with difficulty.' Huler's admittedly obsessive narrative ranges from the late — 18th-century ships of the British West Indies Company to a wind tunnel at the University of Michigan, leading 'through sailing and engineering and science and technology.' But at its heart is a fascination with the language we use to describe the world around us. Less a piece of science writing than a writer's meditation on science, this gem of a book is equal parts history, mystery, textbook and memoir, as much a story about how we think about the wind as it is about the wind itself, and deserves a wide audience among readers interested in writing, nature and history. 30 illus." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"[T]his gem of a book is equal parts history, mystery, textbook and memoir, as much a story about how we think about the wind as it is about the wind itself, and deserves a wide audience among readers interested in writing, nature and history." Publishers Weekly

Review:

"[N]ot just a beautifully written portrait of Sir Francis Beaufort and of the scale that bears his name; it is also the story of Huler's multiyear research and a philosophical and historical tale of science as a way of observing and making sense of the world. Highly recommended." Library Journal

Review:

"Whether tracing the scale's evolving linguistic content or the route of one of Beaufort's surveys, Huler wonderfully relays the history contained, as he so aptly writes, in the Beaufort scale's 'one hundred ten words...and four centuries of backstory.'" Booklist

About the Author

Scott Huler is the author of On Being Brown and A Little Bit Sideways: One Week Inside a NASCAR Winston Cup Race Team. His work is heard regularly on National Public Radio. He lives in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Product Details

ISBN:
9781400048847
Author:
Huler, Scott
Publisher:
Random House
Location:
New York
Subject:
General
Subject:
History
Subject:
Maritime History
Subject:
Beaufort scale.
Subject:
Earth Sciences - Meteorology & Climatology
Copyright:
Edition Number:
1st ed.
Series Volume:
51
Publication Date:
August 2004
Binding:
Hardcover
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
304
Dimensions:
8.58x5.86x1.11 in. 1.11 lbs.

Other books you might like

  1. Geronimo Stilton #01: Geronimo... Used Trade Paper $4.50
  2. Wizard of Earthsea Used Mass Market $4.50
  3. Red Ranger Came Calling
    New Trade Paper $8.00
  4. Gilgamesh the Hero New Hardcover $20.00
  5. The Daring Book for Girls
    Used Hardcover $6.95
  6. Looking for Bobowicz: A Hoboken... Used Hardcover $7.50

Related Subjects


History and Social Science » Geography » Meteorology
Reference » Science Reference » Meterorology
Science and Mathematics » Physics » Meteorology

Defining the Wind: The Beaufort Scale, and How a 19th-Century Admiral Turned Science Into Poetry Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$5.95 In Stock
Product details 304 pages Crown Publishers - English 9781400048847 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

"Staff Pick" by ,

Scott Huler's infatuation with the Beaufort Wind Scale borders on the obsessive. And his fascination with it is infectious. More than a skillfully written portrait of Sir Francis Beaufort and the scale that bears his name, Defining the Wind represents years of Huler's research into the history of science. Writing with both humor and wit, Huler gives us a wonderful tale of exploration, nature, and history, not to mention an appreciation of science as a way of making sense of our world.

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "While working as a copy editor two decades ago, Huler chanced across the Beaufort scale in Merriam-Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary. He was entranced by the scale's 'quintessence of... verbal economy, the ultimate expression of concise, clear, and absolutely powerful writing, 110 words in six-point type' that describe the varieties of wind from 'calm' to 'hurricane.' Huler soon turned to a successful career as a writer and NPR contributor, but the Beaufort scale stuck with him, and he decided to learn more about the man whose definition of a 'strong breeze' reads: 'large branches in motion; telegraph wires whistle; umbrellas used with difficulty.' Huler's admittedly obsessive narrative ranges from the late — 18th-century ships of the British West Indies Company to a wind tunnel at the University of Michigan, leading 'through sailing and engineering and science and technology.' But at its heart is a fascination with the language we use to describe the world around us. Less a piece of science writing than a writer's meditation on science, this gem of a book is equal parts history, mystery, textbook and memoir, as much a story about how we think about the wind as it is about the wind itself, and deserves a wide audience among readers interested in writing, nature and history. 30 illus." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "[T]his gem of a book is equal parts history, mystery, textbook and memoir, as much a story about how we think about the wind as it is about the wind itself, and deserves a wide audience among readers interested in writing, nature and history."
"Review" by , "[N]ot just a beautifully written portrait of Sir Francis Beaufort and of the scale that bears his name; it is also the story of Huler's multiyear research and a philosophical and historical tale of science as a way of observing and making sense of the world. Highly recommended."
"Review" by , "Whether tracing the scale's evolving linguistic content or the route of one of Beaufort's surveys, Huler wonderfully relays the history contained, as he so aptly writes, in the Beaufort scale's 'one hundred ten words...and four centuries of backstory.'"
spacer
spacer
  • back to top
Follow us on...




Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at Powells.com.