Carry On, Mr. Bowditch

Carry On, Mr. Bowditch

Book - 1983
Average Rating:
Rate this:
A fictionalized biography of the mathematician and astronomer who realized his childhood desire to become a ship's captain and authored The American practical navigator.
Publisher: Boston : Houghton Mifflin, c1983
ISBN: 9780618250745
Characteristics: 251 p. : ill
Additional Contributors: Cosgrave, John O'Hara 1908-1968


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Dec 22, 2020

Overall I like this book because it was adventurous, fun, and interesting to learn about life in the 1700’s. My younger brother and sister loved this book as much as I did, because they saw how math was used to save lives and sail around the world.

This book covers many topics, so it would interest a huge audience. From the history of sailing the shipping business to teaching and inspiring others to learn. I think the library should buy this book because huge amounts of people would read it. People could imagine that they were living in the 1700’s and on adventures with Nat. Nat’s sailing took him to Africa, England, Asia, and Indonesia to trade medicine, tools, shoes, spices, fabric.

I particularly liked how Nat inspired Lem Harvey. Lem liked to cause trouble, fight and talk back, so Nat put him in charge of the guns. Lem quickly became a leader and taught the sailors how to use the guns safely and efficiently. Later, Lem learned the impossible skill of Math and Navigation.

When dreams of going to Harvard fell through Nat made the best of being an indentured servant. During that time, he taught himself Latin, French, Calculus and Trigonometry. While sailing around the world, he found many dangerous errors in the navigation resources. This motivated him to correct these errors. These corrections saved the lives of many sailors.

As a gifted mathematician Nat eventually published a massive book for sailors.He published The American Practical Navigations. This book is still used and relied upon today.

-Review submitted by an Austin Public Library Volunteer

Jun 04, 2019

What a GREAT book! I wish the library carried more books by this author. Excellent writing, and a definite must-have for the home library, for all ages. We listened as a family to the audio version (anything read by Jim Weiss is an excellent choice, which is how we stumbled upon this nugget of gold). All the kids ages 3-15, as well us the adults, thoroughly enjoyed the story. So very well-written, carefully chosen language (clean for all ages), very informative historically, and amazing lessons of integrity, hard work, persistence, wisdom, discernment, and fortitude even in the most difficult (and dangerous) of circumstances, and overall good character. This is the best way to learn history - through a "living library" (living history). Definitely recommend for everyone to read (or listen to audio)!

Lovestoread5 Aug 26, 2018

Excellent. I didn't think I'd like it because it was about navigation and boats, but the author does a great job illustrating the main character's life and how he obtained his education. When he is on board various ships, it's like the reader is right there with him experiencing everything. It is a great book. I really liked it, to my surprise. :D

Aug 01, 2016

This is one of the precious few books that have made it on my all my children must read this book before they leave home list. How to learn, how to work hard, how to make the best of a rotten situation. And it's biographical. Love it!

Feb 28, 2016

This is the interesting biography of Nathaniel Bowditch, a man not well known but whose work revolutionized sea navigation. The book relates the struggles he faced in life and how he persevered to become a master navigator. Well told and laced with interesting anecdotes, the book is a good read for anyone 10 years and up.

Jan 22, 2014

A fascinating story of Nathaniel "Nat" Bowditch, a young man who studied mathematics, latin and astronomy to eventually write the "American Practical Navigator". This became the shipping standard in the 1800's. I love New England historical fiction!

Aug 17, 2010


Mar 11, 2010

The story has lots of tragedy at the beginning that may be difficult to get through but the rest of the story is inspirational, uplifting, and well worth getting to. This is a great book for pre-teen / early teen. I read it to my 10 yr old son and had lots of good conversation around the book.

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability
Feb 12, 2018

gjrainey thinks this title is suitable for 11 years and over

Dec 16, 2017

blue_bird_3692 thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over

Mar 03, 2017

sijohnson0706 thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at BPL

To Top