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on 9 October 2011
When I was at school, science teachers were dull, dusty individuals who smelled faintly of cabbage. Happily, Adam Hart-Davis conforms to none of these stereotypes, and The Book of Time is written with the same infectious enthusiasm and technical accuracy that he brings to his TV appearances. It's not just about science, either. Randomly opening the book, I'm presented with articles about Time and Buddhism, the Mayan calendar, Egyptian notions of time, and early clocks. Irrespective of your level of background knowledge, it's easy to dip into the pages for a few minutes and come away knowing something that you didn't know before.

Added to this are high production values and accessibility. Virtually every page is illustrated with full-colour photographs, and the text is written as a series of short, magazine-style articles which are grouped around the themes of "What is Time?", "Nature's Clocks", "Setting the Time", "Measuring Time", and "Time and Science". If you imagine a slightly-more-luxurious Doring Kindersley book then you'll have a rough idea of what to expect.

Because the book's written for a general audience it does tend to favour simplicity over depth, and it's certainly not a competitor to heavyweights like The Universe in a Nutshell. However, it's not intended to be, and it should appeal to a wide range of age groups from budding scientists through to dusty old former-cabbage-smellers like myself. My only gripe lies with the typesetting, which occasionally takes the magazine format to extremes and becomes zany just for the sake of it. That aside, this is a very appealing book, and Hart-Davis' bubbly prose style makes it an easy and pleasurable read. I liked it.
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