EBOOK DOWNLOAD [The Great ARC The Dramatic Tale of How India Was Mapped and Everest Was Named] AUTHOR John Keay

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This book was very disappointing From my reading "of Into The "Silence Wade Davis I knew the basic story of the Great " Wade Davis I knew the basic story of the Great Survey of India "Into The Silence Wade Davis I knew the basic story of the Great Trigonometrical Survey of India around 1800 by William Lambton and completed by his successor George Everest after whom the tallest mountain in the world is named What I desired was a better understanding of how these measurements were done that enabled the teams to actually do the mapping I know than enough trigonometry to understand the calculations involved in the mapping given the three angles of a right triangle and the length of one side the lengths of the other two sides can be calculated But the one side that was used in these calculations was THE FOOT OR BASE OF THE TRIANGLE AND IT foot or base of the triangle and it never explained how that could be measured over an inclined or irregular surface Without that understanding much of what followed made little senseAnother example from the text a far greater complication arose from the fact that the earth as well as being uneven is round This means that the angles of any triangle on its horizontal but rounded surface do not as on a level plane add up to 180 degrees Instead they are slightly opened by the curvature and so come to something slightly than 180 degrees This difference is known as the spherical excess and it has to be deducted from the angles measured before any conclusion can be drawn from them Great I understand thatbut not how it was done What is in this book though is a real look at the difficulties encountered in this survey including simple things like the expansion of tools used for measurement in hot weather Malaria and other tropical fevers were of constant concern and in some survey seasons workers counted into the three digits died Portions of towns that obstructed the view of the surveyors were destroyed including homes with families still living in them Swaths of trees were felled Temples were altered as needed The British didn t care This book also delves into the personalities of both Lambton and Everest spoiler alert Everest was a real shitAll in all if you are looking for a book on the Great Trigonometrical Survey of India I would suggest that you look for another one to read The story of how India was mapped through a series of triangles by using the basic fundamentals of trigonometry under the leadership of William Lambton and his successor after whom the tallest peak in the world was named George Everest Somehow my respect for topo sheets ust went up a few notches after reading this book So magnificent Like the Himalayas I m sorry to say goodbye to this one It s a real gem Just fabulous as far as a book on triangulation can be It was interesting for me to read about the Great Indian Arc of Meridian and compare it in my mind to the Struve Tenner Geodetic Arc the Great Russian Arc measured at the same time in Eastern Europe The people who were involved in the triangulation were uite something and obviously if you d pair geodesy with tigers malaria and the highest mountains in the world you re bound to get something interesting The Great Arc is a wonderful little chronicle of the Great Trigonometrical Survey carried out in India roughly between 1800 1860 CE Various teams surveyed India right from its southern tip to the HimalayasWhat brings the book alive is John Keay s writing Packed with meticulously researched details both in India and in England Keay enriches it further with some things gained from his own recent traversing of the Great ArcThe book is packed with memorable characters such as William Lambton the meticulous and slightly eccentric father of the survey who also intended the Arc as a giant experiment to measure the geodesy of the globe the curve apart from mundane activities such as mapping India Keay also recounts how he re discovered Lambton s forgotten grave in the heart of India George Everest then takes over the narrative and succeeds in connecting the Arc from Central India to the Himalayan foothills despite severe illnesses marauding tigers and unreliable euipment The final few chapters deal with the troublesome mapping of the Himalayas and the search for the highest mountain in the world which was named in honour of the now retired Surveyor General of India Everest which Keay says should actually be pronounced as EVE rest rhyming with CLEAVE rest Apparently Everest himself was unhappy with the mispronounciations which dogged his lifeOverall the book is now all the poignant and important because the works of people such as Lambton and Everest along with their life s work which was the Great Arc are largely forgotten both in India and England which is a crying shame During their time they were richly feted as some of most pre eminent men of science and the Arc was hailed as the most scientifically exact and reliable operation undertaken anywhere in the worldOverall the book was extremely enjoyable mainly thanks to Keay s brilliant writing particularly his pleasure in depicting eccentricity Whereas the British can be blamed for the partition of India it can be The Great Indian Arc of the Meridian begun in 1800 was the longest maesurement of the earth's surface ever to have been attempted Its 1600 miles of inch perfect survey took nearly fifty years Hailed as one of the most stupendous works in the history of science it was also one of the

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The Great ARC The Dramatic Tale of How India Was Mapped and Everest Was NamedPact too For this was a way for the East India Company that by now had clear territorial ambitions to exert its influence over the East India Company that by now had clear territorial ambitions to exert its influence over land it wished to govern A survey of this magnitude was essential to map territories delineate regions and divisions build the web of infrastructure links so essential to effecting control over such a large region and above all to assert territorial superiority Needless to add it was a necessary aid to revenue collection one of the primary reasons why India was attractive to the colonial ambitions of the BritishLarge swathes of forest were cleared hills flattened monuments temples and mosues vandalized villages razed buildings and mansions in towns cut through all in the name of obtaining clear lines of sight to measure the trigonometrical angles Suffice to say the local populace and their princes were not amused Nor did the arrogant and high handed approach of the superintendents of the Survey George Everest included help Local resources were diverted men and beasts put in the employ of the Survey and the harsh conditions of the dense Confessions of an Air Ambulance Doctor jungles and working in the heat and rain claimed fatalities larger in number than wars It would not be an exaggeration to say that this was one of the reasons contributing to the First War of Independence in 1857The subject matter of the book makes for interesting reading Without complicating it with technical details the author explains the basics of geographical survey and measurement with its complexities and problems in a simple enough manner There would have been difficulties in researching a topic two centuries old inspite of the copious amount of correspondence and publications that the mammoth effort must have generated The book restricts itself to the first thirty or so years of the survey that took nearly seventy and traces the events during the course of its first two superintendents William Lambton an unassuming but much loved person with a zeal for perfection and his successor George Everest a man with an eual zeal for perfection but loathed by his sub ordinates for his abrasive and abusive ways There is some reference to the administrative logistical and practical difficulties that these men had to face but the book is neither a humanistic account that presents the dynamics of the what how why nor a research treatise that delves into the technical details It is an attempt at turning a mega event into a novel but ends up without strong characterisation with the exception of Lambton who is presented as a lovable old man and Everest as a loathable person There is little detail on the social political and cultural impact the survey had on the India of then Even events that would have then been and would now be too sacrilegious such as drilling a hole in the dome of a mosue removing a pillar holding the cupola atop Akbar s tomb at Fatehpur Sikhri mounting euipment tons heavy on the spires of temples are glossed over Needless to add such acts would have generated tremendous animosity and ill will among the local population with implications for the survey and the fledgling administration of the East India Company An examination of these aspects would have made the book a far absorbing read for by the last third of the book it gets repetitive Everest s outbursts the same challenges and problems in finding suitable spots for observation points etcNevertheless the book is an interesting read on a subject matter that literally defined the world we live in Full marks to the author for that A good book that loses steam in its second half It starts off strong describing the men instruments of the great trigonometric survey and the perils facing them Then itust settles into a rhythm of Everest bashing malaria scouting for high ground Everest bashing malariaNotably the book has exactly three lines on Radhanath Sikdar The author believes that Sikdar s contribution to the survey has been overstated but how about introducing him first and then presenting some arguments about why he doesn t think he was relevant And even if he was ust the computer for the survey who calculated the height of Mt Everest doesn t he deserve a bit of background As a surveyor I was fascinated by the exploits of my forebears It is an amazing account and I saw many reflections of some of my own experiences Of course the euipment that I had access to was much technologically based but the principles were much the same Also there were a surprising number of things that have not changed over the decadesI was in awe of these great men and the lengths that they went to so that they could provide the baseline from which they could measure and map the rest of the sub continentThe narrative is a bit slow going and tedious in places Even so I was gripped by the story and so grateful to the author for bringing it to life for meThis book won t interest everyone but it is a bit of history and will interest anyone who wants to learn about life in the 19th century even if you don t have too much interest in the technical side of surveying. Est an impossible martinet completed it This saga of astounding adventure and gigantic personalities not only resulted in the first accurate measurement of the highest peak in the world but defined India as we know it and significant advanced our scientific understanding of the planet. .
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