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3.7 out of 5 stars9
3.7 out of 5 stars
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on 7 July 2010
This book is written by a professor of engineering, but with the general reader in mind. Although it deals with technical matters, these are presented in a way that does not require a high level of mathematics or physics. It has 50 illustrations including many magnificent photographs.

The structure of the book is as clear as the structure of the bridges that it discusses. After an introductory chapter it considers the four main types of bridge in turn; beams, arches, trusses, and suspension. It then considers the question of safety, and finally the development and maintenance of bridges as team work.

Bridges are considered as works of art as well as civil engineering, and the book is very rich in references to other arts and to culture in the widest sense, with references to Newton, Kant, Michelangelo, Giotto, Palladio, Herodotus, Tracey Emin, Antony Gormley, and many others. David Blockley also considers bridges as symbols, icons, landmarks, and as objects of inspiration.

There are fascinating sections on many celebrated bridges including the wobbly Millennium Bridge, the Clifton Suspension Bridge, the Salginatobel Bridge, and the Millau Viaduct.

This is also a book that could be of value to schools. It brings maths and physics to life, and could be a vehicle for taking students on trips to visit bridges to see how these disciplines are used in practice in ways that are important as transport links as well as being imaginative and inspirational.
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on 17 April 2016
Although an essential element of every country’s infrastructure, bridges are generally taken for granted until no longer available to overcome a natural or man-made impediment. People may admire the many examples of Victorian bridges or the beauty of a modern cable-stayed bridge, but the majority give little thought as to how such structures come into existence. David Brockley’s ‘Bridges’ aims to change that mind-set by embarking on a journey which will teach an observer to read the fundamental elements of any bridge and understand the design philosophy, physical construction and impact upon society at large.

‘The science and an art of the world’s most inspiring structures’ is a very apt sub-title as the author addresses both aspects in a very comprehensive manner which the non-technical reader will find easy to understand. The four main types of bridge and their evolution are explained in great detail together with the underlying principles of design without recourse to complicated maths and formulae. The penultimate chapter deals in depth with safety and the risks inherent in the design, construction and maintenance of bridges, citing many examples of where things went disastrously wrong resulting in loss of life. Avoiding the latter occurrences is developed in the final chapter where bridge building becomes a metaphor for improving communication and inter-relationships between people.

Clearly the author is a qualified and experienced writer possessing the ability to explain a complex subject in a clear and non-academic manner which will appeal to anybody with an interest in bridges. Although the narrative is supported by diagrams and photographs, the book would have benefited from more of the latter, however ‘Google’ provides plenty of images of the many bridges alluded to in the text.
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on 7 January 2013
"A picture is worth a thousand words". The publishers should have remembered this as this would have prevented the author from getting entangled in descriptions of the bridges and what they are made of. That said, as a scientist myself, I even found the explanations of the few equations featured in the book to be confusing! There are many technical words which are not explained which make those complicated explanations incomprehensible. Seeing the bridge one reads about on a photo would surely have helped the reader...
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on 25 August 2012
I find it to be a failing of 'popular science' books that they spend a lot of time on things that are obvious, then leap straight to complicated technical and mathematical description. This one is no exception. As a general reader with no background in engineering I felt first patronised and then bemused. The book is ill-written and unappealing, and I couldn't finish it.
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on 4 November 2012
Although the "science" aspect of the book is excellent, I feel the "art" aspect was disappointing in that there are no photos, and a limited amount of sketches. As this was bought for a present it's not what I hoped it would be.
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on 25 May 2013
Nice book giving information on that most common place of items, the bridge. Includes stories of bridges that stayed up and a few that have come down.
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on 9 January 2013
On struggling through to the end of the book, I felt that I had learnt far more than I wished about the author's philosophical ideas, but relatively little about bridges. The format which mixed accounts of incidents involving specific bridges, brief engineering explanations, and general philosophising, delivered little coherence, and did not build towards understanding of bridges. In particular, the more theoretical sections were not easy to follow, seemed convoluted even for one who knew the end-points, and the diagrams were not very helpful. I found the section on risk positively misleading, because the author seemed so keen to air his prejudices on probability, statistics, and reductionism, and put little emphasis on the quality of the analysing tools now available, or indeed on the large safety factors that are imposed. So, I found the treatment of the science of bridges lacking, but the art was more or less completely ignored, save for a hit at cable-stayed bridges. It really would be interesting to know why some bridges, ancient and modern, are viewed as icons, whereas others, not necessarily much different, are seen as purely functional.
I cannot recommend this book, as it is not fit for purpose, even as defined by its author.
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on 25 April 2014
This is. A great book, especially if you like bridges. I got this for my friends 40th as she is mad on bridges!
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on 29 July 2014
yes thankyou
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