04 February 2007
The Riddle of the Compass
The Riddle of the Compass: The Invention that Changed the Worldby Amir D Aczel was a marginally interesting little book and no more. It felt a lot more like reading a high school term paper than anything else- quoting lots of sources with no references, big margins, and lots of repetition. I didn't feel that I learned much of anything from the book.
The subject was interesting enough, and the first 50 pages weren't too bad, but then it went downhill quickly. Not really recommended even though it was a very quick read.
And what is it with popular fiction leaving out any kind of citation because it "ruins the flow of the story?" I can't stand this trend. Endnotes are a good compromise if an author or editor thinks that footnotes are a bit much (I like footnotes), but leaving out citations almost completely assumes that most readers will take an author at her word if it was in the non-fiction section no matter what the sources are. This book was an example of this, but it's certainly not the only one.