At Day's Close

Night in Times Past

A. Roger Ekirch (Author, Virginia Tech)

Overview | Inside the Book

"Remarkable…Ekirch has emptied night's pockets, and laid the contents out before us." —Arthur Krystal, The New Yorker

Bringing light to the shadows of history through a "rich weave of citation and archival evidence" (Publishers Weekly), scholar A. Roger Ekirch illuminates the aspects of life most often overlooked by other historians—those that unfold at night. In this "triumph of social history" (Mail on Sunday), Ekirch's "enthralling anthropology" (Harper's) exposes the nightlife that spawned a distinct culture and a refuge from daily life.

Fear of crime, of fire, and of the supernatural; the importance of moonlight; the increased incidence of sickness and death at night; evening gatherings to spin wool and stories; masqued balls; inns, taverns, and brothels; the strategies of thieves, assassins, and conspirators; the protective uses of incantations, meditations, and prayers; the nature of our predecessors' sleep and dreams—Ekirch reveals all these and more in his "monumental study" (The Nation) of sociocultural history, "maintaining throughout an infectious sense of wonder" (Booklist).

Book Details

  • Paperback
  • October 2006
  • ISBN 978-0-393-32901-8
  • 5.5 × 8.2 in / 480 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide including Canada, but excluding the British Commonwealth.

Endorsements & Reviews

“An enthralling anthropology of the shadow realms.” — John Leonard, Harper's

“Absorbing…fascinating…[Ekirch] has plundered an extraordinary range of cross-cultural sources for his material, and he tells us about everything from witches to firefighting, architecture to domestic violence…[A] monumental study.” — Terry Eagleton, The Nation

“This is an irresistibly fascinating book. It has a hypnotic, feverish pace that will have its readers up all night wondering, expectant.” — Ken Burns

“Perfect reading for insomniacs and star-gazers alike.” — Jonathan Spence, Sterling Professor of History, Yale University

“An absorbing social history…A wonderful revelation of a vanished age of darkness.” — Raymond Carr, The Spectator

“Engrossing…Ekirch's narrative is rooted in the material realities of the past, evoking a bygone world of extreme physicality and pre-industrial survival stratagems.” — Publishers Weekly

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