Engineers of Dreams: Great Bridge Builders and the Spanning of America

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9780679760214: Engineers of Dreams: Great Bridge Builders and the Spanning of America

Petroski reveals the science and engineering--not to mention the politics, egotism, and sheer magic--behind America's great bridges, particularly those constructed during the great bridge-building era starting in the 1870s and continuing through the 1930s. It is the story of the men and women who built the St. Louis, the George Washington, and the Golden Gate bridges, drawing not only on their mastery of numbers but on their gifts for persuasion and self-promotion. It is an account of triumphs and ignominious disasters (including the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, which literally twisted itself apart in a high wind). And throughout this grandly engaging book, Petroski lets us see how bridges became the "symbols and souls" of our civilization, as well as testaments to their builders' vision, ingenuity, and perseverance.
"Seamlessly linked...With astonishing scope and generosity of view, Mr. Petroski places the tradition of American bridge-building in perspective."--New York Times Book Review

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Review:

Henry Petroski's lyrical history of bridge builders in America is organized around five engineers: James Eads (inventor of the diving bell, which bridged Mississippi at St. Louis); Theodore Cooper (railroad bridge engineer and designer of the ill-fated Quebec Bridge); Gustav Lindenthal (Hell Gate Bridge, New York); Othmar Ammann (George Washington and Verrazano-Narrow bridges); and David Steinman (Mackinac bridge). Petroski's opening and closing chapters, "Imagine" and "Realize," remind us how a bridge starts out as a dream of engineering, but ends as a reality of compromise and maintenance. Edward Tenner says that "The profound contribution of Engineers of Dreams is to remind us that communication across generations may be the most important bridge of all."

From Library Journal:

Petroski, a civil engineering professor and author of The Pencil (LJ 3/1/90) and The Evolution of Useful Things (LJ 12/92), is one of the better scientist-writers around, and this book is in several ways his best. By focusing on a half-dozen bridge engineers who did epochal work, he manages to capture something of what it is about bridge building that inspires passion and dedication from the engineers who design, build, and study them. Wisely, the Brooklyn Bridge is not a focus here, having been covered well by David McCullough (The Great Bridge, S. & S., 1983); instead, we learn about the Hell Gate, the George Washington, the Eads in St. Louis, and, subtitle notwithstanding, the Firth of Forth and a few Canadian spans as well. We also learn about the men (exclusively) who dreamed them and made them real. One quibble: most of the engineering is elegantly explained, but once per chapter, some term shows up that?maddening?eludes every resource in a well-stocked library. Excellent for general collections and perfect for collections in the applied arts and sciences.?Mark L. Shelton, Worcester, Mass.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Book Description Random House USA Inc, United States, 1997. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. 196 x 132 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. In his previous books, Henry Petroski has initiated us into the hidden mysteries of such everyday artifacts as the lead pencil, the paper clip, the zipper, and the Post-it note. Now, with Engineers of Dreams, he makes a jump in scale to contemplate those dry paths across the rivers and inlets of our cities, those hard crossings over the gulches and ravines of our countrysides, those eminently practical but inescapably aesthetic edifices that persist in taking our breath away (when we re not taking them for granted): bridges. The great era of American bridge building - which from the 1870s through the 1930s gave us such landmarks as the Eads Bridge across the Mississippi, the Hell Gate Bridge across the East River, the George Washington Bridge across the Hudson, and the Golden Gate Bridge at the mouth of San Francisco Bay - called for a special breed of engineer: equal parts dreamer, inventor, and entrepreneur. Since the building of any bridge is necessarily a collaborative effort, engineers of dissimilar philosophies and all-too-similar egos were thrown together on project after project, making for an ongoing, interwoven human and technological drama. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780679760214

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Book Description Random House USA Inc, United States, 1997. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. 196 x 132 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. In his previous books, Henry Petroski has initiated us into the hidden mysteries of such everyday artifacts as the lead pencil, the paper clip, the zipper, and the Post-it note. Now, with Engineers of Dreams, he makes a jump in scale to contemplate those dry paths across the rivers and inlets of our cities, those hard crossings over the gulches and ravines of our countrysides, those eminently practical but inescapably aesthetic edifices that persist in taking our breath away (when we re not taking them for granted): bridges. The great era of American bridge building - which from the 1870s through the 1930s gave us such landmarks as the Eads Bridge across the Mississippi, the Hell Gate Bridge across the East River, the George Washington Bridge across the Hudson, and the Golden Gate Bridge at the mouth of San Francisco Bay - called for a special breed of engineer: equal parts dreamer, inventor, and entrepreneur. Since the building of any bridge is necessarily a collaborative effort, engineers of dissimilar philosophies and all-too-similar egos were thrown together on project after project, making for an ongoing, interwoven human and technological drama. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780679760214

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Book Description Random House USA Inc, United States, 1997. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. 196 x 132 mm. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. In his previous books, Henry Petroski has initiated us into the hidden mysteries of such everyday artifacts as the lead pencil, the paper clip, the zipper, and the Post-it note. Now, with Engineers of Dreams, he makes a jump in scale to contemplate those dry paths across the rivers and inlets of our cities, those hard crossings over the gulches and ravines of our countrysides, those eminently practical but inescapably aesthetic edifices that persist in taking our breath away (when we re not taking them for granted): bridges. The great era of American bridge building - which from the 1870s through the 1930s gave us such landmarks as the Eads Bridge across the Mississippi, the Hell Gate Bridge across the East River, the George Washington Bridge across the Hudson, and the Golden Gate Bridge at the mouth of San Francisco Bay - called for a special breed of engineer: equal parts dreamer, inventor, and entrepreneur. Since the building of any bridge is necessarily a collaborative effort, engineers of dissimilar philosophies and all-too-similar egos were thrown together on project after project, making for an ongoing, interwoven human and technological drama. Bookseller Inventory # BTE9780679760214

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