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Remaking the World (Vintage) [Paperback]

Henry Petroski
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
RRP: 10.24
Price: 10.19 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

19 Aug 1999 Vintage
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

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Books (19 Aug 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375700242
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375700248
  • Product Dimensions: 20.5 x 13.5 x 1.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 223,861 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Read 10 July 1998
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
This is a fine tome about engineering for those of us who scraped thru algebra! Should be required reading for *every* high school student. It gives a lot of basic information in understandable writing. Such as how did radio get to where it is today. Because of yacht racing... Now if that doesn't tease the brain, I don't know what else will...
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5.0 out of 5 stars great 24 Mar 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
enjoyed the book very much, it was written one of the worlds top engineers, I expect to purchase more of his books.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.6 out of 5 stars  12 reviews
24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars For Petroski Fans Only 15 July 2001
By Steve Harrison - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a collection of articles written for Petrowski's monthly column in American Scientist magazine. Many are brief biographies of 19th-century engineers; a (very) few look (very) briefly at particular pieces of historical engineering (an article on the Ferris wheel is probably the best); others are ruminations on such hazards of the engineering practice as the stress that keeps them up at night and their failure to be awarded Nobel prizes. These seem quite satisfactory articles for a magazine column but they are slender stuff for a book. And Petroski's tendency to return to the same subjects, pardonable in a monthly column, becomes repetitive when the columns are collected. All but die-hard Petroski fans can skip this one
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Read 10 July 1998
By Jim T - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This is a fine tome about engineering for those of us who scraped thru algebra! Should be required reading for *every* high school student. It gives a lot of basic information in understandable writing. Such as how did radio get to where it is today. Because of yacht racing... Now if that doesn't tease the brain, I don't know what else will...
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Spendid short essays - (a must for any Petroski fan) 19 April 1998
By from the US - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I'm like those awful teachers who rarely give "10s" (although Petroski's The Pencil would get a 10!) Despite his protestation that these are slightly altered essays for the "American Engineer", as I recall, - he'd be hurt to realize that it's not common reading for most of us. For me it was all new territory - not covered in prior Petroski books and full of the interesting mix of social history and engineering history that he does so well. The order is arbitrary - except for the first chapter which is a bit autobiographical and perhaps should be read first - but I mostly skipped to topics I felt like reading and did them in my own order. My only criticisms are that a) the essays have some but could have used a bit more visuals - diagrams or photographs and b) many chapters - maybe not all but many - could easily have supported treatment at greater length. But I am a very tough grader. Also maybe at hardcover prices the publisher could be chided for not including more of the colums, this is a selection from thirty or so - and I doubt that Petroski was the parsimonious one! (but you can grab it while Amazon.com has it at 30% off) Its definitely nice to have this collection of columns from a journal I don't ever see, wrapped up in one volume.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A must for engineering fans 18 Sep 1998
By Gary - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Remaking the World should be sought out by any and all fans of engineering, laymen included. Anyone who has ever been mesmerized and enthralled by great feats of construction needs to take part in Petroski's stories behind these great feats. A thoroughly entertaining and enjoyable book.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent collection of essays 10 Jun 2009
By Stephanie Moore-Fuller - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I've been a fan of Henry Petroski for a long time, and this book is no exception. Remaking the World is a collection of essays, most of which originally appeared in American Scientist, the bimonthly magazine of Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society.

Petroski's usual engaging style and thorough research is used to tell us the story of a variety of structures, people, and concepts. And even though I'm a professional engineer, I knew hardly any of these stories already.

There's a piece about the Channel Tunnel and the over 2 century (!) history of proposals, politics, and arguments, up to its eventual completion. There is one about the Nobel Prize, which was funded and conceived by an engineer, and yet today tends to reward "pure" scientists. There's one about Henry Martyn Robert, an engineer in the Core of Engineering, and his best-known work, which is not a piece of civil engineering, but Robert's Rules of Order. And there's one called "On the Backs of Envelopes" that explores this common way for engineers to begin working on a problem.

Petroski includes enough detail and technology to keep a technical person engaged, and yet explains clearly and keeps things simple so that someone less technical can enjoy him too. One can see how he can be both a professor of Civil Engineering and of History.

Recommended for anyone who is curious about engineers and engineering.
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