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Time Lord: The Remarkable Canadian Who…

Time Lord: The Remarkable Canadian Who Missed His Train and Changed the… (2000)

by Clark Blaise

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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265342,932 (3.27)6
  1. 00
    Selling the True Time: Nineteenth-Century Timekeeping in America by Ian R. Bartky (wademlee)
    wademlee: Both address the topic of time zones and railroads but Time Lord does so in a much more general and nontechnical way.

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A book about an invention that goes by unknown today, but we can't live without, and the one man, Sandford Fleming, who brought it about. More than just a history or a biography, it looks at how we perceive time. ( )
  charlie68 | Dec 12, 2013 |
Have you ever imagined what life was like before time zones? Every village had their own time. Noon was when the sun stood directly overhead. New Year's Eve was a wave of celebration that spread town-by-town across the country. None of this was really a problem until the advent of railways. All of a sudden you had to explain to people at both ends of a route what time the train was leaving and arriving. You can imagine the confusion.

Time Lord is marketed as a biography of Sir Sanford Fleming, but it's really much broader than that. It's a history of the late Victorian era when people's understanding of time radically shifted. Blaise's work draws significantly on literature to describe people's attitudes towards time.

Fleming is the perfect candidate through which to explore this era. He's known for three main things: surveying a good portion of Canada's cross-country railroad, leading the world to a conference where time was standardized, and laying a world-circling sub-Pacific cable. All three major elements of life swirl around the question of what time is and how it should be described.

Some might feel that the book meanders a little too much. One of the chapters, for example, is almost exclusively devoted to Sherlock Holmes. I, on the other hand, found the leisurely journey through the late nineteenth-century quite fascinating. ( )
1 vote StephenBarkley | Sep 14, 2010 |
I found this book very interesting.

Time is something that we don't even think about anymore. Ok, we think about time, about how much we need, or don’t have but we don’t actually think about the mechanics of time, how it was decided that the day starts at midnight and midnight started when and everything else that it entails.

When did space & time become an inseparable pair? When did time start to matter? What did people do before standard time?

This book explains about when time started to matter, when the steam engine, trains and the telegraph became prevalent and life started to move faster. Before the train it didn’t matter that you lost an ‘hour of time’ for every 1000 miles, no one could travel or communicate fast enough for it to matter. It covers how European thought and American thought were different and why. and of course it talks about Sir sanford Fleming and how he influenced Canada and time as we know it. ( )
  bruce_krafft | Jan 13, 2010 |
Showing 3 of 3
"a rumination on society's conception of time and how it was dramatically changed at the end of the 19th century."
added by wademlee | editLibrary Journal, Wade Lee

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Clark Blaiseprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Melnick, MarkCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Naturalists and Psychologists believe that of all forms of animal life, only a man possesses a sense of time.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0375401768, Hardcover)

In the 1880s, a businessman traveling by train from New York to Boston needed, on arrival, to adjust his clock, moving it ahead by 12 minutes. The strange increment, writes Clark Blaise, was a matter of local interpretation, some enterprising Bostonian having determined that the rising sun touched the shore of Massachusetts a dozen minutes before warming Manhattan.

Such local interpretations of time made the job of establishing railroad schedules a matter of guesswork and hope, as the Canadian entrepreneur Sandford Fleming discovered when he missed a train in the west of Ireland in 1876. Frustrated, Fleming realized that a new system of universal time would need to be created if railroad travel were ever to realize its full potential. As Blaise writes, "the adoption of standard time for the world was as necessary for commercial advancement as the invention of the elevator was for modern urban development," and nations such as England that had a system of standard time in place owed much of their economic superiority to the predictability and reliability such a system put in place.

Fleming discovered that getting the world onto the same schedule required years of negotiating and browbeating, a nightmare that Blaise ably recounts. Fleming's efforts eventually paid off, and as Blaise writes, "Of all the inventions of the Industrial Age, standard time has endured, virtually unchanged, the longest." His entertaining account of how that came to be will be of appeal to readers who enjoyed Dava Sobel's Longitude, Henry Petroski's The Pencil, and other popular works in the history of technology. --Gregory McNamee

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:22 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

"Drawing on Fleming's vast archive of letters, diaries and reports, Clark Blaise in this book tells the story of the creation of a single time standard for the world. In 1878 Fleming's idea was rejected as too trivial for discussion by the British Association for the Advancement of Science, but six years later, after a campaign that took Fleming to every international meeting of astronomers and geographers, he had forged an influential network of engineers, railroad men and astronomers that proved irresistable. World standard time became a reality in 1884 at a diplomatic and scientific conference in Washington, D.C., called by the President of the United State."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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