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

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Author: Philip Jenkins
Date: Sept. 2001
From: The American Enterprise(Vol. 12, Issue 6)
Publisher: The American Enterprise Institute
Document Type: Book review
Length: 847 words

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Time Lord: Sir Sandford Fleming and the Creation of Standard Time By Clark Blaise Pantheon Books, 272 pages, $24

When it is noon in Los Angeles, the time in New York City is 3 p.m., and it's eight in the evening in London. As we progress eastwards around the globe, the time changes in neat hourly increments every thousand miles or so, until we reach the International Date Line which traverses the Pacific Ocean, where the day shifts. The fact that the world measures its time in such a well-structured way seems so obvious that few of us pause to think how matters could ever have been different. Global standard time is just there, like the sun and the moon.

Yet of course this organizational framework is far from natural, and in fact was only imposed by a "Prime Meridian Conference" in Washington, D.C. in 1884. Before that, cities and regions controlled their own time on a local, ad hoc basis. For any given community, the point of day at which the sun stood overhead was &dared to be noon, and other hours were calculated accordingly. This state of affairs was fine for a world moving at the speed of horse and rider, but it became thoroughly inadequate following the advent...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A77607935