An entertaining and authoritative exploration of how and why time has come to rule our lives from the bestselling author of Just My Type.
Not so long ago we timed our lives by the movement of the sun. These days our time arrives atomically and insistently, and our lives are propelled by the notion that we will never have enough of the one thing we crave the most. How have we come to be dominated by something so arbitrary?
The compelling stories in this book explore our obsessions with time. An Englishman arrives back from Calcutta but refuses to adjust his watch. Beethoven has his symphonic wishes ignored. A moment of war is frozen forever. The timetable arrives by steam train. A woman designs a ten-hour clock and reinvents the calendar. Roger Bannister becomes stuck in the same four minutes forever. A British watchmaker competes with mighty Switzerland. And a prince attempts to stop time in its tracks.
Timekeepers is a vivid exploration of the ways we have perceived, contained and saved time over the last 250 years, narrated in the highly inventive and entertaining style that bestselling author Simon Garfield is fast making his own. As managing time becomes the greatest challenge we face in our lives, this multi-layered history helps us tackle it in a sparkling new light.
I'm a little obsessed with time and so I thought this book would be ideal for me. A lot of the chapters have interesting premises but at times I found the links to time becoming tenuous in the true sense of time. However, what Simon Garfield has done is a little like a good comedian, taken a concept, in this case time and then explored what that means to different people. He certainly has some amusing tales and facts within the book. We find out about how people used time in different eras and how time changed the world.
The fact that the railways standardised time is something I have read about before, and some of the themes if you are familiar with this subject you will no doubt have read about also. However, Garfield does cover some obscure and interesting areas. Such as how did they decide on the length of a cd? How long should it take to play Beethovens 9th? The workings of a car assembly line to time management and that old adage "ask a consultant to tell you the time and he will ask to borrow your watch and keep it".
This is quite a heavy book in places and is really something to be dipped in and out of.
I'm giving this book 4 out of 5 stars.
My thanks to Netgalley for a copy of this book for review.