A SMITHSONIAN BEST HISTORY BOOK OF 2021
‘An utterly dazzling book, the best piece of history I have read for a long time’ Jerry Brotton, author of A History of the World in Twelve Maps
‘Not merely an horologist’s delight, but an ingenious meditation on the nature and symbolism of time-keeping itself’ Richard Holmes
Since the dawn of civilisation, we have kept time. But time has always been against us.
From the city sundials of ancient Rome to the era of the smartwatch, clocks have been used throughout history to wield power, make money, govern citizens and keep control. Sometimes, also with clocks, we have fought back.
In About Time, time expert David Rooney tells the story of timekeeping, and how it continues to shape our modern world. In twelve chapters, demarcated like the hours of time, we meet the greatest inventions in horological history, from medieval water clocks to monumental sundials, and from coastal time signals to satellites in earth’s orbit. We discover how clocks have helped us navigate the world, build empires and even taken us to the brink of destruction.
Over the course of this global journey Rooney demonstrates how each of these clocks has shone a spotlight onto human civilisation, and shows us the very real effects clocks continue to have on everything from capitalism, to politics, to our very identity.
This is the story of time. And the story of time is the story of us.