Even by Victorian standards, the Scots/Canadian Sir Sandford Fleming was a man of extraordinary energy - designer of Canada's first postage stamp and the first street maps of Canadian cities, engineer of the trans-Canadian railway to British Columbia and of the trans-Pacific telegraph cable from London to Australia and New Zealand via Canada and ...Read MoreEven by Victorian standards, the Scots/Canadian Sir Sandford Fleming was a man of extraordinary energy - designer of Canada's first postage stamp and the first street maps of Canadian cities, engineer of the trans-Canadian railway to British Columbia and of the trans-Pacific telegraph cable from London to Australia and New Zealand via Canada and Fiji, he yet found the time to write volumes of diaries, thousands of letters and fifteen books. Time Lord tells the story of yet another achievement - Fleming's greatest - his idea of unifying the world's times in a series of time zones, an idea originally rejected as too trivial for discussion by the Royal Canadian Society of Engineers for whom he wrote his first paper on the subject. Twenty years later, after a series of journeys to the British astronomer-Royal, the Czar's Astronomer, the courts of Prussia, Italy and Japan and finally the American President, and after opposition from many quarters, the world adjusted its clocks and accepted Fleming's new system. It is an extraordinary story, wonderfully illuminating of the past, and of a fascinating man, difficult, irascible, but ultimately brilliant. Comparable obviously to Longitude, Fleming's achievement, in a world without modern communications or transport, makes the achievement of a single European currency seem like a minor detail in comparison.Read Less
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Publishers Weekly, 2001-03-12 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, etc.), 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. (Apr. 20) Forecast: Every popular science book that comes down the pike these days is compared by its publisher to Dava Sobel's Longitude. But this beautiful little book may really follow in Sobel's footsteps. Blaise's six-city author tour (San Francisco, Minneapolis, Chicago, Iowa City, Seattle and Portland, Ore.) can only help to garner attention. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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