9781250052681

Finding North How Navigation Makes Us Human

by
  • ISBN13:

    9781250052681

  • ISBN10:

    1250052688

  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 5/10/2016
  • Publisher: Flatiron Books

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Supplemental Materials

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  • The New copy of this book will include any supplemental materials advertised. Please check the title of the book to determine if it should include any access cards, study guides, lab manuals, CDs, etc.
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Summary

Navigation is the key human skill. It's something we do everywhere, whether feeling our way through a bedroom in the dark, or charting a ship's course. But how does navigation affect our brains, our memory, ourselves? Blending scientific research and memoir, and written in beautiful prose, Finding North starts with a quest by the author to understand this most basic of human skills---and why it's in mortal peril.

In 1844, Foy's great-great grandfather, captain of a Norwegian cargo ship, perished at sea after getting lost in a snowstorm. Foy decides to unravel the mystery surrounding Halvor Michelsen's death---and the roots of his own obsession with navigation---by re-creating his ancestor's trip using only period instruments.

Beforehand, he meets a colorful cast of characters to learn whether men really have better directional skills than women, how cells, eels, and spaceships navigate; and how tragedy results from GPS glitches. He interviews a cabby who has memorized every street in London, sails on a Haitian cargo sloop, and visits the site of a secret navigational cult in Greece.

At the heart of Foy's story is this fact: navigation and the brain's memory centers are inextricably linked. As Foy unravels the secret behind Halvor's death, he also discovers why forsaking our navigation skills in favor of GPS may lead not only to Alzheimers and other diseases of memory, but to losing a key part of what makes us human.

Author Biography

GEORGE MICHELSEN FOY is the author of Zero Decibels: The Quest for Absolute Silence and twelve critically acclaimed novels. He was a recipient of a National Endowment of the Arts fellowship in fiction and his articles, reviews, and stories have been published by Rolling Stone, the Boston Globe, Harper's, the New York Times, andMen's Journal, among others. He teaches creative writing at NYU and is married with two children. Foy divides his time between coastal Massachusetts and New York.

Table of Contents

fear
the Stavanger Paquet
Birds, memory, and London taxis
modeling Halvor
at the shrine of the navigation gods
the "exploration" gene
adventures in the GPS trade
stellar screw-up
sex and navigation
horse latitude
a journey to the dark heart of GPS
searching the chart
Odysseus in Haiti
launch
the downside of cybernav
at sea
navigate or die
the sail, and the story of the sail
the politics of navigation
Norway
finding north

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