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4.5 out of 5 stars44
4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 18 October 2005
This book was given to me and it is so beautifully written and illustrated I shall treasure it always. It has a wonderful introduction by Dan Cruilshank and excellent text by Steven Brindle who has obviously done his research well. The book is written in an easy, flowing manner and is really makes you feel that you know the true Isambard Kingdom Brunel -what a man!
I would highly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in engineering, social history, or just Brunel. It looks great on a coffee table too and I tend to lose all hope of conversation with anyone who picks it up, as they are instantly absorbed in this book. Excellent idea for Christmas presents.
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on 16 January 2008
I was given this book as a present and it is truely a beautiful production. The illustrations and diagrams are plentiful and superb. Steven Brindle's text is both well researched and understandable, giving fine examples to illustrate his point. I cannot think that M. J. Clarke below has spent much time with this book as there are diagrams gallore and the pull out illustration of SS Great Britain is a delight.
Dan Cruikshank writes a beautiful introduction and the story of Brunel is both interesting and informative with accurrate facts and it is obviously well reseached. After all Wasn't it Brindle who discovered Brunels early bridge behind Paddington Station - he should know his stuff.
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on 7 January 2011
This is a splendid book which goes into a wealth of detail about Brunel and his creations. Certainly the best book I have seen on Brunel.
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on 19 November 2013
I've grown up with Brunel; my first home was a pub built to serve the railway works he started; the first shopping centre I can remember as a child was named after him; later, we moved to Bristol where his legacy is both visible and unavoidable. I was put in 'Brunel' house at school, where we did a project on the SS Great Eastern. I could go on...

And yet while I've used his railway, stations and bridges countless times, and visited some of his other works, such as the Thames Tunnel where I bought this book, the SS Great Britain, and the Starcross Pumping House as a tourist, this is the first real biography of the great man that I've read. And it's fantastic, if a bit brief.

Although I could probably claim a bit of prior knowledge of the extent of Brunel's works, I am no engineer, and yet even the most technical parts of this book kept me enthralled. As well as neatly summarising Brunel's career, in subject specific sections (his work with his father, his railway, his bridges, his ships, etc) rather than chronological order, Steven Brindle has done a great job of both showing what a catalogue of achievements Brunel's career was and bringing the character of the man alive; the inclusion of excerpts from Brunel's own letters is a wonderful touch. Many of them are amusing, one of them in particular made me laugh out loud.

The book inspires a sense of wonder that one man achieved so much, much of it all going on at the same time. But it isn't simple hagiography. Whilst they're not dwelt on, Brindle does expand on some of Brunel's failures, and questionable negotiating tactics. He comes across as a little unscrupulous by modern standards.

I can't really fault this book in any way apart from wishing it was longer. This is a summary of a career, rather than a detailed biography. But as an introduction to the man, his career, legacy and character, I recommend it fully.
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on 24 July 2009
An excellent biography. Steven Brindle is an expert in his subject and manages to get inside this extremely complex and gifted character, Strongly reccommendedBrunel: The Man Who Built the World (Phoenix Press)
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on 22 November 2014
This paperback is a punchy expletive on Brunel's life and his thoughts and acts . I liked the text and it was gripping . You didn't want to put the book down . Illustrations are enough to give one an idea , but wouldn't overwealm the non-technical of us . I recommend this to anyone , Engineers included . A good read .
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on 22 August 2008
I picked this book up while working out in the Middle East recently. Well, I'd been away for a while and exhausted the local sights so inevitably it was time to become a resident of Starbucks, drinking coffee and reading.

'Brunel', I thought - 'now that should be interesting', knowing him as the guy who built Paddington Station, the railway to Bristol and beyond, SS Great Britain, Great Western and Great Eastern and a number of bridges and the East London Line tunnel under the Thames.

Sure enough it's good read but I still only really know him as the guy who built Paddington Station, the railway to Bristol and beyond, SS Great Britain, Great Western and Great Eastern and a number of bridges and the East London Line tunnel under the Thames, without a great deal more detail than before.

The book itself is presented neatly into eight sections, which cover his early life working with his father, his connections to Bristol, family life, his work on Railways, bridges, shipbuilding, his office set up and Staff, and his legacy and is written in an acessible way which doesn't bend the readers mind with too much in the way of engineering detail.

However, the format might be the downfall of the book as it takes away any sense of chronology (though a section is provided at the back to make up for this). Added to this, there is no real sense of biography and the story telling lacks any real detail and considering the trials of getting Great Eastern built (which I should think would fill a book on it's own) this is rather disappointing.

But maybe that's the book's downfall... there's just too much to tell in under 200 pages of fairly large text!

Anyway, the book comes recommended as a decent overview of what Brunel acheived but if it catches your imagination (and admittedly, it's caught mine) expect to look for the real detail elsewhere.
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on 27 August 2012
My parents suggested i read some books about engineers before i settled on my engineering course at university, this book is a good read if you are interested in general knowledge about the history of engineering...
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on 12 April 2015
Very good in that there are many insights into Brunel the man, as well as details of his engineering feats. A very interesting read.
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on 3 January 2016
This book was a Christmas gift to my husband...he has been reading it since Christmas Day and as a retired engineer himself, he has loved it. Arrived on time for Christmas and prompt response from seller to my email enquiry. I also like the fact that part of the cost of the book has gone into creating more libraries and further education.
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