Time Lord: Sir Sandford Fleming and the Creation of Standard Time

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The remarkable story of the man who created and then convinced all the nations of the world to adopt a unified standard for telling time.Standard Time was one of the crowning achievements of Victorian progressiveness and one of the few Victorian innovations to have survived practically unchanged into our era. Few technological inventions have proven to be both as invisible and as important. Today we take it for granted that the world is divided into twenty-four time zones, but before Standard Time was established...
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Time Lord: Sir Sandford Fleming and the Creation of Standard Time

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Overview

The remarkable story of the man who created and then convinced all the nations of the world to adopt a unified standard for telling time.Standard Time was one of the crowning achievements of Victorian progressiveness and one of the few Victorian innovations to have survived practically unchanged into our era. Few technological inventions have proven to be both as invisible and as important. Today we take it for granted that the world is divided into twenty-four time zones, but before Standard Time was established in 1884, time was an arbitrary measure decided by individual localities. With the advent of continent-spanning railroads and transatlantic steamers, the myriad local times became a mind-boggling obstacle and the rational ordering of time became an urgent priority.After laboring for years to create a scientific consensus, Sandford Fleming gathered scientific and political representatives from the world's twenty-five independent nations in Washington, D.C., for the Prime Meridian Conference. There, after considerable rancor, delegates agreed to the Greenwich Prime Meridian, the International Date Line, and a single system by which the entire world would measure its longitudes and tell the same time.In Time Lord, Clark Blaise introduces us to an almost-forgotten figure, who saw the world as a whole and overcame traditional and national objections to the rational accounting of time.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
This fascinating narrative harkens back to a time when time itself was highly variable, and the town hall clock often set the local time. The story of Sanford Fleming and his battle for standard time is also the story of the Victorian era, when modern forms of technology, such as rapid long-distance transportation, clashed with older ways of life.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Although he had consulted his guide to Irish railroad travel for the correct time of his train's departure, Sanford Fleming discovered that the train scheduled to depart at 5:35 p.m. would actually depart 12 hours later, at 5:35 a.m. Prior to 1884, conflicts like Fleming's were not unusual since time was not standardized as it is today. Determined to impose a rational order over something so elusive, Fleming, a Canadian engineer and surveyor, turned his attention to the creation of a standard global time based on a 24-hour clock, which he presented to an assemblage of leaders from around the world in 1884 at the Prime Meridian Conference in Washington, D.C. After much scrutiny and debate, these leaders accepted Fleming's proposal, agreeing that the day would begin at midnight and establishing both the Prime Meridian at Greenwich and the International Dateline. Blaise's splendid account traces Fleming's starring role as the creator of a method of measuring time that rules people's lives even today. Blaise, author of 15 previous books of both fiction and nonfiction (Brief Parables of the Twentieth Century: New and Selected Stories), presents an important history of ideas and examines how this invisible yet remarkable technological achievement of the Victorian era, a period marked by a dogged confidence in its own capacity for progress, changed the world. Blaise writes with perfect pitch and graceful narrative; his most beautiful chapter explores the ways that writers like Thomas Mann, Marcel Proust and Virginia Woolf manipulated time in their work even as they were constrained by it. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Rather than a traditional linear biography of Fleming (for that, see Lorne Green's Chief Engineer), this is a rumination on society's conception of time and how it was dramatically changed at the end of the 19th century. The pace is leisurely as Blaise, former head of the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa, asks philosophical questions such as "Who owns time?" and explores the interrelations among time, distance, invention, art, and myriad other topics. The main and unifying topic, however, is the Canadian railroad engineer's efforts to create a single universal time, or, failing that, standard time zones that streamlined commerce and travel and scientific research by bringing a welter of "local times" into synchronicity. This book approaches the topic of time zones and railroads in a much more general and nontechnical way than Ian Bartky's Selling the True Time (LJ 7/00) and, as such, is recommended for general science and college collections. Wade Lee, Univ. of Toledo Libs., OH Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Booknews
This is the story of the man who created and then convinced all the nations of the world to adopt a unified standard for telling time. In the late 19th century, Fleming gathered scientific and political representatives from the world's 25 independent nations for the Prime Meridian Conference, where delegates eventually agreed to the Greenwich Prime Meridian, the International Date Line, and a single system by which the world would measure its longitudes and tell the same time. Blaise is former head of the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
From the Publisher
“[A] complex examination where the yarn is put in richly detailed context and in clever, careful prose. . . . Blaise’s gifts for dry humor and well-chosen description are apparent.” —San Francisco Chronicle Book Review

“[A] powerful example of what it takes to get countries and their ethnocentric leaders to agree on one idea, one standard, and a unified mission that places the stakes on the future..” —Amy Tan.

“Blaise, a graceful and engaging writer, leaves his narrative and wanders through thickets of art and culture.” —The New York Times Book Review

“A fascinating story... and the wonder is that it’s not better known.” —Adam Hochschild

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375401763
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 4/10/2001
  • Pages: 272
  • Lexile: 1310L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.48 (h) x 1.06 (d)

Meet the Author

Clark Blaise, former head of the Iowa Writer’s Program, lives in San Francisco.
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Read an Excerpt


It is difficult today to imagine life before standard time was established in 1884. In the middle of the nineteenth century, for example, there were 144 official time zones in North America alone. The confusion that ensued, especially among the burgeoning railroad companies, was an hourly comedy of errors that ultimately threatened to impede progress. The creation of standard time, with its two dozen global time zones, is one of the great inventions of the Victorian Era, yet it has been largely taken for granted.

In Time Lord, Clark Blaise re-creates the life of Sanford Fleming, who struggled to convince the world to accept standard time. It’s a fascinating story of science, politics, nationalism, and the determined vision of one man who changed the world. Set in a time marked by substantial technological and cultural transformation, Time Lord is also an erudite exploration of art, literature, consciousness, and our changing relationship to time
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Foreword: The Gauge Age
PART ONE: A (Very) Brief History of Time
1. The Discovery of Time
2. Time and Democracy
3. What Times Is It?
4. Time and Mr. Fleming
5. The Decade of Time, 1875-85
6. The Practice of Time
PART TWO: Time Was in the Air
7. Notes on Time and Victorian Science
8. Riding the Rails
9. The Aesthetics of Tmie
10. The Prime(s) of Mr. Sandford Fleming
PART THREE: After the Decade of Time
11. Britain, 1887
12. Time, Morals, and Locomotion, 1889
Afterword: The Ghost of Sandford Fleming
Bibliography
Index
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Customer Reviews

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( 8 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 6, 2013

    To all

    The creater said to move to result 2

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 6, 2013

    Wynter

    Can i join?

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 6, 2013

    Xareo

    A man in a tie walks out of the makeshift tardis. Hi. Im xareo

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 6, 2013

    Jay

    Okay. Can u tell me what dr who is about?

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 5, 2013

    What is this rp?

    What is it? Is it Dr. Who?

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 5, 2013

    The Doctor

    "I don't really know. Look! There are the Daleks! Good think I have this." He points to the Sonic Screwdriver. Gtgtb. C u l8r

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 18, 2012

    Time Lord? You don't Look too Gallifreyen?

    I seached time lord and this is what popped up. I mean dude,ever hear of Doctor Who? The famous Brtish telivision show? No? Well why not you time lord rip off! Go to Gallifrey. You might just learn something new!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 12, 2003

    A gassy, meandering effort

    I was expecting an insightful, readable, and entertaining book about Fleming and his role in the creation of Standard Time. Nope. Instead, what you get is a meandering discourse on a bit of this and that and a lot of everything else. Some of Blais' insights are interesting, but most run in circles, and in the end you're still not sure how large a role Fleming played in the establishment of Standard Time. It takes real dedication to stick with this book from beginning to end. It's definitely not a light or easy read.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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