Reviews elsewhere on the web:
Alun Salt
Graham Shipley

Leofranc Holford

The History of Time: A very short introduction

Our use of the clock and the calendar are so ingrained that sometimes it's hard to imagine that things can have ever been otherwise. But they can, and in The history of time Leofranc Holford-Strevens has given us lots of information about how the ways we describe time have come about. For instance the word noon comes from the latin for 9 meaning 3 o'clock in the afternoon - work that one out if you can! The book is mostly concerned with the history of the current calendar, but also has information on time-keeping in other cultures such as the Mayan calendar.

This book is part of the Very Short Introductions series, but I felt in a way that it doesn't really fit. Holford-Strevens has done well to fit such a lot of information into a short book, but it does mean that its not so easy on the reader - I felt that there was more than I would ever want to know about how the date of Easter has been calculated. It's not so much an introduction, it's more like a pocket reference. But if that is what you want, and you don't fancy the author's longer Oxford Companion to the Year then you should consider this book.

Amazon.com info
Paperback 160 pages  
ISBN: 0192804995
Salesrank: 935826
Weight:0.35 lbs
Published: 2005 Oxford University Press
Amazon price $11.49
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Amazon.co.uk info
Paperback 160 pages  
ISBN: 0192804995
Salesrank: 538140
Weight:0.35 lbs
Published: 2005 Oxford University Press, USA
Amazon price £7.99
Marketplace:New from £2.43:Used from £0.01
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Amazon.ca info
Paperback 160 pages  
ISBN: 0192804995
Salesrank: 152414
Weight:0.35 lbs
Published: 2005 Oxford University Press
Amazon price CDN$ 3.04
Marketplace:New from CDN$ 3.04:Used from CDN$ 1.13
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Product Description
Why do we measure time in the way that we do? Why is a week seven days long? At what point did minutes and seconds come into being? Why are some calendars lunar and some solar?
The organization of time into hours, days, months, and years seems immutable and universal, but is actually far more artificial than most people realize. For example, the French Revolution resulted in a restructuring of the French calendar, and the Soviet Union experimented with five and then six-day weeks.
Leofranc Holford-Strevens brings us this fascinating study of time using a range of examples from Ancient Rome and Julius Caesar's imposition of the Leap Year to the 1920's project for a fixed Easter. Those interested in time, history, and the development of the calendar will enjoy this absorbing exploration of an aspect of our lives that we all take for granted.