The question why there’s Daylight Saving Time pops up twice a year, in our case in the Netherlands at the end of March and October. In The Great Daylight Saving Time Controversy, author Chris Pearce shows that applying Daylight Saving time is not an obvious global practice. In this information-rich 400 pages book, he discloses the measurement of time. From ancient lunar and solar calendars, naming of days and months, differences between the calendar used in the Western world, compared to e.g. Jewish, and Chinese calendars, and the determination of time zones: 50 pages are devoted to bringing your knowledge up-to-date.
Where mean times and time zone boundaries started to conflict with the wish for uniform time schedules in public transport and telecommunications in the 19th Century, a solution was proposed, that eventually led to what we now know as Daylight Saving Time from the 20th Century. In every country on every continent, Antartica included, setting a start and end date to a yearly daylight saving period turned out to be one of the most sensitive topics in politics. Bills were issued, neglected, abandoned, re-applied, especially in war times and fuel shortages, e.g. the Oil Crisis in the 70’s. Tens of pages are provided for every continent, including tables and statistics of DST application, effects and voting outcomes.
This level of detail makes the book less readable, or interesting to read as a whole. As the book kicked off with Europe, I was used to the way Peace writes, when the chapters on the Americas, Asia, and Africa started. Honestly, I skipped a lot in the latter part of the book, although the Daylight Saving Time on Antartica, but also in large countries like Australia, the U.S.A., and China had my interest. Surprises are e.g. the great-great-grandson of the ‘builder and originator’ of Daylight Saving Time, William Willet (1865-1915) being Chris Martin, who wrote Clocks in 2004, a Coldplay mega hit. Pearce throws in poems, pictures, and original books, to spice up his creation.
“Daylight saving appears to be here to stay. Controversy will no doubt persist in many countries and states over whether to put the clocks forward all year, just in the warmer months or not at all. Most people have firmly entrenched views, often depending on their lifestyle and where they live.”
About the author
Chris Pearce was born in Surrey, UK, and grew up in Melbourne, Australia. He worked as a public servant (federal and state) for 25 years and in the business sector for 13 years. He has a background in economics, statistics, accounting, management, marketing, history, research, writing and editing. The Great Daylight Saving Time Controversy is his third book. His others are a historical novel set in Manchester, UK, A Weaver’s Web, and an account of an early Australian convict, Through the Eyes of Thomas Pamphlett: Convict and Castaway. In addition to writing books, his other interests include family history and tenpin bowling. He and his wife live in Brisbane, Australia.