best kind of history: rigorous ... but chock-full
of lively anecdotes." —Kirkus Reviews
We Put the Clocks Forward
by David Prerau
the time of Benjamin Franklin through to the
twenty-first century, the story of daylight
saving time (summer 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 policymakers.
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 —
busloads of people.
a popular look at science and history, Saving
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 of the dissenters.
INDEX: Saving 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
is better for our waking hours, glorious sunshine,
which costs us nothing, or expensive and incomparably
less efficient artificial light?"
—Sir Robert Ball, astronomer
aspect...would fill London with horror. [A man]
going to a seven o'clock dinner...would appear
on the streets on London in evening dress at
5:40, which would shake the British Empire to
AN EXCERPT FROM THE INTRODUCTION:
Benjamin 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. . . .
THE DAYLIGHT EXAMINES A NUMBER OF UNEXPECTED
AREAS IMPACTED BY DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME, INCLUDING...
Trains: To keep to published timetables,
trains cannot leave a station before the scheduled
time. So, in many countries, when the clocks
fall back one hour in the autumn, all trains
stop at the DST time change and wait one hour
before resuming their travel. 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, 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 Chile or New Zealand.
Status, Vietnam War: A man, born
just after 12 midnight, DST, avoided the Vietnam
War draft in the United States by arguing
that under official standard time he was born
the previous day—which
had a much higher draft lottery number.
Trick-or-Treaters: For many years,
the DST in the U.S. ended a few days before
Halloween. The U.S. extended the DST period
in 2007 so that it always includes Halloween.
This provides young trick-or-treaters one
more hour of light and therefore more safety
from traffic accidents during that hour.
Patrons of bars that stay open past the time
of the clock change 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.