Even the non-nautical reader who may never have heard of Nathaniel Bowditch will finish this book an enriched admirer of his. In leisurely manner we follow this Boy of post-revolutionary Salem, from his meager school days through arduous years of apprenticeship to a ship's chandler, and his first exciting sailing trip around the Cape to the East Indies. At , master of his own ship, he achieves a modest fortune from the spices of still savage Sumatra and the Philippines. Meanwhile we watch his rare genius develop as he revises the Practical Navigator and prepares his great work on astronomy. Finally, his late years in the insurance business in Boston round out the picture of American sails of the era of 1812 and of this many-sided scholarly navigator. Good solid reading, authentic but never dull.