About Time: A History of Civilization in Twelve Clocks by David Rooney: 4.5****

This is one of the most unique books I have ever read. It is a book all about the history of clocks, or as it is known in the business “Horology.” The author is a clock historian, has worked at the Greenwich Observatory and has been the president of the worldwide horological society. I can think of nobody else better qualified to write such a book. Now this is not a book that everyone is going to want to read, and even if you read it it’s not exactly the book you’re going to read at breakneck speed. There is a lot of great history in there, as he examines 12 different clocks and how those clocks represent different ways in which the clock and time have been used to organize society. I never realized how many wonderful clock stories there are, nor did I realize how many different types of clocks were out there and what were the reasons behind the uses of these clocks.

He begins by the downing of Korean Air flight 007 and explains how that attack would have been preventable had there been GPS navigational systems in place. From there he takes us all the way back to Roman times with the Sundial which was used to create order in society. A lot of people weren’t happy with the sundial because they didn’t want to be told what time to eat or to do something. The clock was telling society it was time to do certain activities at certain times. Later chapters take a look at how clocks, and all different types of clocks, were used to instill faith, virtue as well as order in the marketplace. We see clocks used for manufacturing purposes, or misused in some cases, as well as for morality and resistance. It truly is a fascinating and wonderful book, for me. This might not appeal to everyone out there but if you like nonfiction reading this is a real winner.

Now you may wonder if I extol the virtues of this book so much why I only gave it a four star rating. The reason being that this is a book of 12 chapters and I found the last 1 1/2 chapters to be more philosophical about clocks and society as viewed by the author. There’s nothing wrong with that, but to me if you only have 12 chapters and a little more than one chapter is not that great then you don’t get a five star rating. But other than that this is a wonderful book and I highly recommend it. I have regaled my family with clock stories during the time I have read this book. I had never heard of this book until I was listening to a podcast called Constant Wonder where the author was being interviewed and it was a fascinating interview that made me want to go out and buy the book. I am very happy I did and I’m very happy to recommend this book to anyone who wants to read about the history of clocks, and the history of our global civilization.

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