9780375700248

Remaking the World: Adventures in Engineering

Petroski, Henry

ISBN 10: 0375700242 / 0-375-70024-2
ISBN 13: 9780375700248
Publisher: Vintage
Publication Date: 1998
Binding: Softcover
Editorial Reviews for this title:
Synopsis:
Science/Engineering


"Petroski has an inquisitive mind, and he is a fine writer. . . . [He] takes us on a lively tour of engineers, their creations and their necessary turns of mind."   --Los Angeles Times

From the Ferris wheel to the integrated circuit, feats of engineering have changed our environment in countless ways, big and small. In Remaking the World: Adventures in Engineering, Duke University's Henry Petroski focuses on the big: Malaysia's 1,482-foot Petronas Towers as well as the Panama Canal, a cut through the continental divide that required the excavation of 311 million cubic yards of earth.
        Remaking the World tells the stories behind the man-made wonders of the world, from squabbles over the naming of the Hoover Dam to the effects the Titanic disaster had on the engineering community of 1912. Here, too, are the stories of the
personalities behind the wonders, from the jaunty Isambard Kingdom Brunel, designer of nineteenth-century transatlantic steamships, to Charles Steinmetz, oddball genius of the General Electric Company, whose office of preference was a battered twelve-foot canoe. Spirited and absorbing, Remaking the World is a celebration of the creative instinct and of the men and women whose inspirations have immeasurably improved our world.

"Petroski [is] America's poet laureate of technology. . . . Remaking the World is another fine book."   --Houston Chronicle

"Remaking the World really is an adventure in engineering."
--San Diego Union-Tribune

Review:
Engineers, Henry Petroski observes, are sometimes their own worst enemies, at least so far as communicating their work to the general public is concerned. Some engineers, of course, have been exceptions. One of the unlikely heroes of Petroski's Remaking the World, an entertaining foray into some of engineering's finest (and, on occasion, less exalted) moments, is Karl August Rudolf Steinmetz, who combined a great talent for design and engineering with a keenly practiced flair for self-promotion. Another is Washington Gale Ferris, the inventor of the Ferris wheel, who concocted several dangerous eyesores before arriving at the design familiar to amusement-park patrons.

Successful at explaining themselves or not, engineers are largely responsible for the world as we know it, and Petroski examines their work to discuss how good design and technology combine to produce the desired results. That combination involves much trial and error, and, as Petroski writes, "artifacts from paper clips to steamships evolve by removing some real or perceived failure of their ancestors to achieve unqualified success." Drawing on examples from past and present, Petroski offers an up-close view of how engineers do their work, and his history is full of surprises and pleasures. --Gregory McNamee

Review

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Remaking the World: Adventures in Engineering (ISBN: 0375700242 / 0-375-70024-2)
Petroski, Henry
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