NIGHT TIME--the forgotten half of history--spawned a remarkably vibrant culture with its own rules and rituals, scents, sights, and sounds. In the preindustrial age, daytime and nighttime were separate worlds--with daylight's departure people entered a dark realm of real and imagined perils. But darkness also offered people freedom from their daily lives, and multitudes drew fresh strength from the selling sun. Crime, fire, and evil spirits; navigating fields by starlight; evening gatherings to spin wool and tales; masked balls and night-cellars: magic ancestral lore, and prayers; midnight liaisons and bundling; dissolute aristocrats and rebellious slaves; the rhythms of sleep and dreams--all these and more are interwoven in A. Roger Ekirch's enthralling study based on twenty years of archival research. Beautifully illuminated by a color insert and with black-and-white illustrations throughout, this compelling narrative is panoramic in scope, yet fashioned on an intimate scale and enriched by personal stories.