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Infrastructure: A Field Guide to the Industrial Landscape Hardcover – 15 Nov 2005

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 500 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (15 Nov. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393059979
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393059977
  • Product Dimensions: 26.1 x 26.1 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 322,132 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

BRIAN HAYES is a senior writer for American Scientist and a recipient of a National Magazine Award.

Inside This Book

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First Sentence
THE RAW MATERIALS FOR BUILDING a civilization are mainly things we dig up out of the ground: fuels such as coal, uranium, and petroleum; the ores of iron, copper, aluminum, and dozens of other metals; stone, sand, and clay for building; and a miscellany of other minerals such as sulfur and phosphates. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By James Blackhurst on 4 Dec. 2012
Format: Hardcover
I don't think I own a (non-fiction) book that I've had more pleasure reading! My Copy of Infrastructure has been read by many people, everyone just gets sucked into the fascinating detail that Hayes brings to his tour of the America landscape, the 'stuff' you see, but never think about the origin and purpose of. You have to accept that this is a very US focused book, which I can imagine would grate on some European readers, but for me, I was able to let that go and just enjoy the industrial Landscape. Speaking of Landscape, the Photography is top notch and it works just as well as a coffee table book as it does as a in-depth read. I enjoyed it massively, and left it wishing there was going to be some kind of follow up to continue the journey. (I found that "Tubes" by Andrew Blum, was in the same vein) Infrastructure is a recommended read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By disgusted of dagenham on 19 Jun. 2011
Format: Hardcover
Hayes, writes clearly and concisely on everything from electricity generating to sewerage disposal [not to mention motorway gradients].
Probably better to dip into than to read at one sitting, but an impressive book
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Robert L. Saunders on 21 Jan. 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is a great book.....if you have any interest at all in all the engineering that surrounds us and is so significant to our civilisation then you will find this book informative and easy to understand.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 23 reviews
55 of 58 people found the following review helpful
How Thing Work 17 Nov. 2005
By John Matlock - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
In times past everyone pretty well knew what everything you saw was, how it was built, and what it was for. Now, you can't keep up. This book might be called a field guide to modern technology. It answers the questions you or your scientifically oriented high-schooler might ask, like:

Why are cell phone antennas triangular

Why are power plant cooling towers shaped the way they are

How do train signals work (There's a whole chapter on railroads.)

and bridges

and airports

and ships

and mines

and dams

and sewers

and barns.

It seems that nothing has escaped the camera and inquisitive mind of the author. It's a fascinating book, suitable for coffee table or especially to keep in the car when driving with the inquisitive kid. It's a book that I pick up when interested in something, and then find that I haven't put it down until I've covered ten or twenty pages. I guess I'm still the inquisitive kid.
33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
A profusely illustrated, clearly written book 2 April 2006
By Dr Hilary Rhodes - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Brian Hayes has produced an excellent book which descibes the workings of the industrial infrustructure as we see it on the surface of the industrialised world, in particular the US and Italy.

Hayes clearly explains what we often see as mysterious, arcane and inexplicable structures in the industrial landscape in clear terms, without becoming tediously technical and using difficult technical terminology, regarding those who may not be overly familar with the mechanics and procedures of mining, energy production and other similar industries.

The text is profusely illustrated with clear colour photographs with captions on every page. Very few diagrams are included, unless absolutely necessary. The captions associated with the photographs elucidate the workings of the machinery or structures depicted. Details such as pylon insulators are also explained. Importantly, a sense of scale is always provided by pointing out an object in the picture which is recognisable.

This is an important book, long needed. It is non-judgemental, and written with a playfulness which makes it all the more engaging. The analogies and explanations given are clear, and the language is accessible most readers including young people from the age of ten, without being condescending.

Infrastructure is a well designed book, produced on art paper (glossy and china coated), and is actually quite weighty. The layout is clear and functional, good typography and eminently legible. The design matches its contents.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Great Gift for Inquiring Minds (Geeks) 3 Mar. 2006
By K. Beachy - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
My husband is the kind of guy who likes to drive out into the countryside following power lines to see where they go. The book seemed like a natural fit, so I ordered it for him for Valentine's day.

Mistake! He spent much of the evening of the 14th poring over the pages, "plugged into the Source," so to speak. (To his credit, he eventually tore himself away from it--with great regret.) So: excellent gift for the technical guys and gals in your life, but don't expect them pay attention to you any time in the next two weeks.

I'd guess Infrastructure would also be a good non-TV option for frazzled moms with bright, incessantly questioning children. Plunk them on the couch, plop the book on their lap, don't forget to provide food and water periodically.

Surprisingly, I found myself drawn to the book as well. I fall into an unresponsive trance when anyone so much as mentions an internal combustion engine, but Brian Hayes is quite seductive. He caught my eye with the gorgeous pictures and layout; I stayed to read the captions, then lingered to skim the text, and suddenly I was fascinated by mega-mining machines and exit ramp layouts.

Even the pages smell good.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
A fantastic book 24 Jan. 2006
By M. Reel - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This book is incredible. It explains so many of the things you look at but don't really understand when you drive around the world, presented in clear, immensely enjoyable text written for the literate layman.

Everything is written from the viewpoint of the observer, so that explanations of the purpose of an object are accompanied by descriptions of how to recognize it and spot it "in the field". The chapter on the power grid, for example, covers so much of "Things on telephone poles", that I now have trouble driving a straight line down a road that runs near a power line because my eyes are drawn upward trying to spot pieces of equipment. He even includes a box explaining the telephone pole itself.

The author has basic, easy to read explanations of any science or technical information that may be helpful in understanding the function of objects. The explanations of items and places are clear and easy to read, never bogging down for even the most technical of items. His photography provides clear examples of what is mentioned in the text. International examples abound, and make interesting comparisons to U.S. standards. Also, a fascinating introduction and many points in the text raise and discuss interesting questions about the impact of the often large-scale infrastructure on our environment and society.

This book is like a huge jar of peanuts: so much that you would never be able to complete it in a few sittings, but once you start it is hard to put it down. And whenever I pass by it on the table, I always want to read a section or two. It is a fantastic reference, inspiring moments of "aha, that's what that is" at every turn.

The author's bio mentions that he has been working on it for 15 years, and this dedication shows. It is hard to imagine how one man can accomplish such an encyclopedic work as this, even in 15 years. Clearly, a labor of love that has produced a terrific volume that I'm sure I will enjoy for years.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
The answers to so many questions 19 Feb. 2007
By T Leaf - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
As an engineer myself, I have been repeatedly astonished at how much this book has to offer. So many things I have wondered about and speculated on are addressed here. It's a long read (at least for me) but worth every minute. I wish I'd had this book 25 years ago as I probably could have skipped the first year or two of engineering school. It does get a bit geeky in places, with a few more detailed descriptions, but overall, it's written for someone with a curious mind. I feel like I can travel around our landscape with a new layer of understanding about how and why things are the way they are. An invaluable resource.

Highly recommended.
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