Time lord: the remarkable Canadian who missed his train, and changed the world

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Knopf Canada, Apr 10, 2001 - Biography & Autobiography - 272 pages
7 Reviews
This is the biography of an idea, and the remarkable story of the man who createdand then convinced the world to adopta unified standard for telling time. Today we take the accurate telling of time across the world for granted. Yet little more than a hundred years ago, people even in neighbouring towns lived by different time schedules: noon was simply whenever the sun happened to be overheadToronto time, for example, was different from Hamilton time some forty miles away. None of this mattered when people travelled in the slow style that had been the norm for generations. But then, as Clark Blaise makes vividly clear, trains arrivedand in the new age of communications myriad local times became a mind-boggling obstacle, and the rational ordering of time an urgent priority. Sandford Fleming, a young emigrant from Scotland, performed the remarkable task of solving the unfathomable temporal riddle of how to knit together a world stippled with thousands of local times. That invention was the start of an exhausting campaign to persuade the squabbling international powers, the diplomats and scientists, to adopt a unified time systema campaign that came to a dramatic conclusion at the Prime Meridian Conference in 1884. His achievement turned out to be one of the greatest gifts of the Victorian Age to our global modern world. This was the great "Decade of Time," as Blaise calls it, that extraordinary ten years that also saw the invention of electric light, the telephone, Impressionism and high-speed cameras.Time Lordis an absorbing reflection on the mythic origins of time itself, as well as a meditation on science, psychiatry, art and literature (from Dickens to Sherlock Holmes to Hemingway); the roots of depression and anxiety; and the results of one man's fascination with clocks and watches and railway schedules. At the heart of the story is the mild but fierce-minded communications genius who sketched and surveyed his way from coast to coast, oversaw the building of the great Canadian railroad, designed the first Beaver stamp, and invented the world-circling, sub-Pacific cable; who saw the world as a whole and changed its nature forever.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - charlie68 - LibraryThing

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. Read full review

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

User Review  - Colleen - Goodreads

started this book and then misplaced it for about a year before finishing. This may have hampered my enjoyment. I felt there was enough material for an interesting new yorker article, but that it was ... Read full review

Contents

The Discovery of Time
3
Time and Democracy
15
What Times Is It?
30
Copyright

12 other sections not shown

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About the author (2001)

Clark Blaise has taught in Montreal, Toronto, Saskatchewan and British Columbia, as well as at Skidmore College, Columbia University, Iowa, NYU, Sarah Lawrence and Emory. For several years he directed the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa. Among the most widely travelled of authors, he has taught or lectured in Japan, India, Singapore, Australia, Finland, Estonia, the Czech Republic, Holland, Germany, Haiti and Mexico. He lived for years in San Francisco, teaching at the University of California, Berkeley. He is married to the novelist Bharati Mukherjee and currently divides his time between San Francisco and Southampton, Long Island. In 2002, he was elected president of the Society for the Study of the Short Story. In 2003, he was given an award for exceptional achievement by the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and in 2009, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada for his contributions to Canadian letters as an author, essayist, teacher, and founder of the post-graduate program in creative writing at Concordia University''.

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