Greg Jenner, "A Million Years in a Day: A Curious History of Everyday Life from Stone Age to Phone Age" (St. Martin's Press, 2016)


Greg Jenner's A Million Years in a Day: A Curious History of Everyday Life from Stone Age to Phone Age (St. Martins Press, 2016), explores the history of the modern material world through the lens of a typical Saturday in the twenty first century. Jenner gives his readers a fascinating look at our daily routines from the medical origins of corn flakes to the ecclesiastical origins of the newspaper. Beginning with the ring of an alarm clock, Jenner explores historical conceptions of time with many humorous and illuminating facts from sources as diverse as French Revolution to the Harappan Civilization of the Bronze Age. Ambitious in its scope and always dedicated to giving his readers a good laugh, Jenner takes a lighthearted look at the improbable people, fortuitous accidents, and unusual places that helped create our modern material world. Jenner's book closes the historical distance between the lives of earlier epochs. Jenner shows the familiar struggles of domestic life are not unique to our own time, but rather shared throughout human history. Whether the Neolithic, medieval, or otherwise, Jenner shows how our ancestors responded to the shared problems of the everyday from setting an alarm clock to cooking breakfast. Jenner also points out that many successful inventions were lost and then rediscovered (such as sewage systems and the Roman bath), questioning popular notions of the linear path of technological development.

James Esposito is a historian and researcher interested in digital history, empire, and the history of technology. James can be reached via email at and on Twitter @james_esposito_

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