Saving the Daylight
Saving the Daylight About Saving the Daylight David Prerau Daylight Saving Time Buy Saving the Daylight

"Fascinating . . . I enjoyed it immensely." — Sir Patrick Moore

Saving the Daylight: Why We Put the Clocks Forward

SAVING THE DAYLIGHT tells the remarkable story of daylight saving time (summer time) — the intriguing and entertaining tale of our attempt to regulate the sunlight hours. It chronicles how the revolutionary idea of putting the clocks forward originated in Britain and then spread around the world — to be observed today on every continent and by well over a billion people.

Full of funny anecdotes and remarkably quirky individuals, and written by David Prerau, who has been called the world's leading expert on the subject, SAVING THE DAYLIGHT tells the fascinating story behind the movement for DST in Britain, the United States, and throughout the world.

The goal of daylight saving time—to use daylight to its maximum advantage—is generally recognized to be of universal benefit. But few people understand how surprisingly controversial this deceptively simple idea has been.

American statesman and inventor Benjamin Franklin first advocated changing the hours of human activity to make the best use of daylight. But it was an Englishman, William Willett, who had the grand idea of accomplishing this objective by putting the clocks forward for several months each year.

Many luminaries play a part in the story. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was an early endorser of daylight saving time. A young Winston Churchill campaigned vigorously for it. Kaiser Wilhelm first employed it. Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt fought for it. Such proponents of DST have proclaimed its benefits, including saving energy (especially during wars and energy crises), reducing deaths from automobile accidents, providing more daylight for outdoor activities, and many others. But DST also has had many detractors—from Scottish farmers to parents of schoolchildren—who have waged contentious battles against it.

For several months every year, daylight saving time affects a good portion of the world. And yet most people switch their clocks forward and back without ever understanding where the idea came from and without ever realizing that DST affects everything from Mid-East terrorism to the attendance at London music halls, voter turnout to street crime, gardening to the profits of radio stations. SAVING THE DAYLIGHT tells all of these tales and a great deal more.


"A fascinating and unusual book. It contained points I didn't know, and I enjoyed it immensely."
—SIR PATRICK MOORE, astronomer, author, and presenter of BBC's The Sky at Night

"Entertaining history ... Prerau's book is up there among the best of them. ... Don't hit the snooze button if Saving the Daylight is on the bedside table."

"Saving the Daylight is a fast-paced history ... With efficient detail and an eye for telling anecdote, David Prerau gallops through more than a century of social upheaval ... Well worth the time of day."

"This book is a revelation. ... The next time the subject raises its head, I look forward to putting my oar in with words gleaned from this book. I heartily recommend it."

"David Prerau takes us on a fascinating journey through the byways of history as he explorers daylight saving. Some compelling characters and unusual anecdotes inhabit this enjoyable book."
—BRIAN FAGAN, author of The Long Summer

"This entertaining book is likely to make your head spin ... There are plenty of hilarious anecdotes here about the chaos that followed most attempts to save daylight around the world."

"A surprisingly absorbing book ... The author has an inexhaustible supply of stories about torn cities, confused bus passengers and other oddities that he delivers in crisp, no-nonsense prose."

"Relevant to everyone and anyone ... Impressively researched ... Not just an enjoyable read but a learning experience with unexpected twists around every corner."

"David Prerau describes the history of changing the clocks in his entertaining new book, Saving the Daylight."

"Chatty and great fun."

"A well-targeted gift or two of Saving the Daylight could ease the [daylight saving time] transition."

"Lively, funny book. "

"The surprisingly fascinating history of daylight saving time. ... [A] delightfully brisk narrative ... The best kind of history: rigorous and academically informed, but chock-full of lively anecdotes."

"In this absorbing book, ... Dr. Prerau gives us the story of ... how 'daylight saving' came about and why."

"A lively and fascinating read. ... Prerau's book is an example of the best kind of historical narrative, emphasising colourful storytelling and snappy prose."

"Informed and lively history"

"A delightfully detailed look at a familiar but underappreciated subject. Who knew it required two centuries [and] a couple of world wars ... to make daylight saving time a reality? After reading David Prerau’s enjoyable and revealing account, you’ll hope we never ‘fall back’ to the dark days before daylight saving time again."
—GERARD HELFERICH, author of Humboldt’s Cosmos


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All material © David Prerau 2016