Much more than a travel narrative 360 Degrees Longitude: One Family’s Journey Around the World is a glimpse at what it means to be a global citizen”a progressively changing view of the world as seen through the eyes of an American family of four.
After more than a decade of planning, John Higham and his wife September bid their high-tech jobs and suburban lives good-bye, packed up their home and set out with two children, ages eight and eleven, to travel around the world. In the course of the next 52 weeks they crossed 24 time zones, visited 28 countries and experienced a lifetime of adventures.
Making their way across the world, the Highams discovered more than just different foods and cultures; they also learned such diverse things as a Chilean mall isn’t the best place to get your ears pierced, and that elephants appreciate flowers just as much as the next person. But most importantly, they learned about each other, and just how much a family can weather if they do it together.
360 Degrees Longitude employs Google’s wildly popular Google Earth as a compliment to the narrative. Using your computer you can spin the digital globe to join the adventure cycling through Europe, feeling the cold stare of a pride of lions in Africa, and breaking down in the Andes. Packed with photos, video and text, the online Google Earth companion adds a dimension not possible with mere paper and ink. Fly over the terrain of the Inca Trail or drill down to see the majesty of the Swiss Alpswithout leaving the comfort of your chair.
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Enjoyable but Lite Travel Reading
I enjoyed spending time with the Higham family as the four of them journeyed around the planet for one year, though which year I am not sure. Though the book was published in 2009, it felt dated: it contained references to Elian Gonzalez, Monica Lewinsky and scanning news stories for ‘post 9/11 news’. When was e.brain technology dominant? Much of the travel info here is light fare, and the several brief appendices contain some of the best useful guidance for anyone considering a similar journey. Ultimately the book felt like it was written for the young adult reader, or as something that would support a screenplay to a PG Disney film, ‘The Global Travel Adventures of the Higham Family’. (I was unable to access any of the links from iBook, so I am sure I missed out on supplementary photos and info.