"Engrossing . . . an excellent read" —Publisher's
"The best kind of history: rigorous . . . but
chock-full of lively anecdotes." —Kirkus
"Rewarding . . . well researched and wryly presented."
"Prerau's book is the liveliest chronicle imaginable
on this topic." —Kansas City Star
"The definitive book on Daylight Saving Time." —The Economist
Curious and Contentious Story
of Daylight Saving Time
by David Prerau
Distributed by Basic Books, an imprint of Hachette Book Group
the time of Ben Franklin, who first propounded
the concept, through to the twenty-first century,
the story of daylight saving time has been an
intriguing and sometimes-bizarre amalgam of
colorful personalities and serious technical
issues, purported costs and perceived benefits,
conflicts between interest groups and government
impacts diverse and unexpected areas, including
agricultural practices, street crime, the reporting
of sports scores, energy conservation, television
schedules, traffic accidents, voter turnout,
and even the inheritance rights of twins.
the story of daylight saving time is filled
with fascinating anecdotes and remarkable incidents.
In September 1999, for example, the Palestinian
West Bank was on daylight saving time while
Israel had just switched back to standard time.
West Bank Palestinians prepared time bombs and
smuggled them to four Arab Israelis, who misunderstood
the time on the bombs. As a result, the bombs
exploded one hour early, as they were being
planted, killing three terrorists instead of
the intended victims, two busloads of people.
a popular look at science and history, Seize
the Daylight presents an intriguing and
surprisingly entertaining story of our attempt
to regulate the sunlight hours—the many contentious
political and scientific battles and the numerous
fascinating anecdotes, all spiced with the political
cartoons, campaign posters, songs, and poetry
of the advocates and the dissenters.
INDEX: Seize the Daylight
covers the vast number of people, places, issues,
events, and anecdotes that comprise the story
of daylight saving time. For an idea of the
scope of the book, view
the Book Index.
QUOTES FROM THE BOOK:
extra yawn one morning in the springtime, an
extra snooze one night in the autumn is all
that we ask in return for dazzling gifts. We
borrow an hour one night in April; we pay it
back with golden interest five months later."
time, a monstrosity in timekeeping."
seems very strange . . . that in the course
of the world's history so obvious an
improvement should never have been adopted.
. . . The next generation of Britishers would
be the better for having had this extra hour
of daylight in their childhood."
—Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
get up late, I have to wait,
Can't keep it straight, who did he hate
I mean the man who first thought up Daylight
Jones, Grand Ole Opry
AN EXCERPT FROM THE INTRODUCTION:
Franklin was astonished.
"An accidental sudden noise waked
me about six in the morning," he
wrote in a letter to the Journal de
Paris, "when I was surprised
to find my room filled with light. I imagined
at first that a number of lamps had been
brought into the room; but rubbing my
eyes I perceived the light came in at
year was 1784, and the seventy-eight-year-old
living in Paris while serving as U.S.
Minister to France. His attendant had
forgotten to close the shutters the previous
evening, and when Franklin saw the sunlight
streaming through his windows, he checked
his watch. It was just six o’clock
in the morning.
thinking it something extraordinary that
the sun should rise so early," Franklin
continued, "I looked into the almanac,
where I found it to be the hour given
for the sun’s rising on that day."
discovery led to "several serious
and important reflections." Had he
risen at noon as usual, he would have
slept through six hours of sunlight. In
exchange, he would have been up six additional
hours by candlelight that evening. Since
candlelight was much more expensive than
sunlight, Franklin’s "love
of economy" induced him to "muster
up what little arithmetic" he was
master of to calculate how much the city
of Paris could save by using sunshine
instead of candles. . . .
further information on Seize the Daylight,
THE DAYLIGHT EXAMINES A NUMBER OF UNEXPECTED
AREAS IMPACTED BY DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME, INCLUDING...
Status, Vietnam War: A man, born
just after 12 midnight, DST, avoided the Vietnam
War draft by arguing that under official standard
time he was born the previous day—which
had a much higher draft lottery number.
Patrons of bars that stay open past 2 a.m.
lose one hour of drinking time on the day
when DST springs forward one hour. This indignity
has led to riots, such as in Athens, Ohio,
site of Ohio University.
To keep to published timetables,
trains cannot leave a station before the scheduled
time. So when the clocks fall back one hour
in the autumn, all Amtrak trains in the United
States that are running on time stop at 2
A.M. and wait one hour before resuming. Overnight
passengers are often surprised to find their
train at a dead stop and their travel time
an hour longer than expected. At the spring
DST time change, trains instantaneously become
an hour behind schedule at 2 A.M., but they
just keep going and do their best to make
up the time.
In Antarctica, where there is no daylight
in the winter and months of twenty-four-hour
daylight in the summer, many research stations
still observe daylight saving time anyway—to
keep the same time as their supply stations
in New Zealand.
Crime: A study by the Law Enforcement
Assistance Administration found that crime
was consistently less during periods of DST
than during comparable standard time periods.
Data for one city showed violent crime down
10 to 13%.
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All material © David Prerau 2020