Cover: Zero Degrees: Geographies of the Prime Meridian, from Harvard University PressCover: Zero Degrees in HARDCOVER

Zero Degrees

Geographies of the Prime Meridian

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Product Details


$29.95 • £23.95 • €27.00

ISBN 9780674088818

Publication Date: 03/13/2017


336 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

11 halftones, 18 maps, 7 tables


This is a delightful and thoughtful book… As an artifact, it is also beautifully produced by its publisher.—Richard Sorrenson, Bulletin of the Pacific Circle

[A] compelling book… Withers manages to turn what might have been an obscure, rather technical topic into a fascinating account of international rivalry and a meditation on what the whole business of measuring the world around us can reveal about broader cultural patterns.—Jon Wright, Geographical

[A] wonderful new book on the long and uneven history of the Prime Meridian… The book is deeply and impeccably researched, and immensely detailed, but it is always a fascinating and compelling read… It is hard to imagine a better, fuller or more coherent account of how modern time came to be.—Penny Fielding, Journal of British Studies

An extremely well researched book that ties together various disciplines and fills in details absent from previous single works on the subject… [Zero Degrees] will serve libraries, scholars, and researchers well for a longtime to come.—Ian Fowler, Journal of Historical Geography

This is a rich and valuable book about an important narrative in the history of science and geography, one that presents a longer and deeper historical context for the choice of Greenwich than any other accounts.—Richard Dunn, Senior Curator and Head of Science and Technology, National Maritime Museum, Greenwich

Charles Withers raises fundamental questions about themes of great contemporary relevance: the ways in which competing local and national interests can ever be reconciled around themes of urgent technological and political concern, and the very question of what counts as global action and globalized authority. Not at all a simple tale of rational planning and of reasoned debate, the stories told here emerge in startling detail as more complex, more fascinating and more consequential than has ever previously been recognized. This is a story of compromise and cunning, of improvisation and partisanship, bringing the highest standards of geographical and historical scholarship to bear on the fundamental problem of the meridian.—Simon Schaffer, University of Cambridge

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The Vivian’s Door Initiative is inspired by the courage and legacy of the late Vivian Malone Jones. She was the first African American to graduate from the University of Alabama and was responsible for ending the segregation of public universities in the state of Alabama. Vivian’s courage and will power to create change for her brothers and sisters of color inspired the creation of a nonprofit project called Vivian’s Door. In March 2020, Vivian’s Door started a book club; their first pick was The Color of Money: Black Banks and the Racial Wealth Gap by Mehrsa Baradaran. In June, over 50 people joined the online discussion of the book