This is a very broad history of timekeeping both in the engineering sense and in the sense of how man perceived the keeping of time. It is competently written and generally interesting to read. If you never thought of reading a book about this subject you may be pleasantly surprised how interesting it is. However, I wouldn't recommend it for people who already have knowledge of the subject.
I agree with the reviewer who said that the first half is better than the second. It gives some insight I hadn't seen elsewhere. The second half feels like it is written by a journalist rather than an expert. I had the feeling that she was repeating things presented better elsewhere.
on 8 May 1999
This is really two books--the first is a chronological history of time measurement devices, and the second is a history of humankind's perception of the age of humanity, the earth, and the universe. The first book is fascinating and well written. Writing for a general readership, Barnett explores the development of clockmaking and how the existence of ever more accurate clocks has irrevocably changed everyday life for us all. Her detailed explanation of the verge-and-foliot escapement was especially fascinating, as was her discussion of "the equation of time" and how it gives rise to the Mean in Greenwich Mean Time. Overall, the first half of her book is a wonderful introduction to an underappreciated portion of humanity's history. The second half of Barnett's book, however, is a rehash of material that Isaac Asimov explored fully in his nonfiction writings in the 1960s and 1970s. It may hold the interest of readers unfamiliar with Asimov, but for me it was a real disappointment, especially after such a compelling introduction to the history of clocks and clockmaking.
on 22 April 1999
Everyone wears watches without thinking about them, and takes it for granted that they don't need setting. This book tells the story of the first clocks, watches, John Harrison's first marine chronometer, and modern timekeepers. With many interesting anecdotes, and a wealth of thought provoking material, relating how mankind has come to rely on cheap and accurate clocks.
A must for anyone with an interest in clocks, navigation or just wanting to find out the mechanisms making our civilisation march in step.