Strictly speaking, the subject is why structures fall down but the title is an inevitable consequence of Salvadori's previous work -- `Why Buildings Stand Up'. This later publication could be described as a compendium of disasters with the focus on buildings both ancient and modern, and bridges of the more recent past. Each chapter addresses different events or aspects of failure and the text is accompanied by numerous hand-draw sketches which, although rudimentary, are an extremely effective visual aid to understanding. For those seeking a deeper appreciation of the issues addressed, there are four useful appendices which whilst more technical, will not be a challenge to the average reader.
The authors' have succeeded in their intention of explaining structural failures in lay language and the book should also be recommended reading for the younger structural engineer and architect. The prophecy that those who do not learn from the mistakes of the past are destined to repeat them has a definite resonance in respect of structures and it is unfortunate that advances in computing and materials technologies have not eliminated the occurrence of failures.
This book is probably best read in stages otherwise there is a danger of disaster fatigue, but I think anyone with an interest in this subject will enjoy the content and gain a better understanding of why structures fail. There are many other technical subjects that could benefit from this approach to enlightening the non-professional, but unfortunately authors such as Levy and Savadori seem few and far between.
In my opinion, `Why Structures Fall Down' deserves a five star rating as it is both enjoyable and educational.