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4.1 out of 5 stars
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4.1 out of 5 stars
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on 5 March 2013
This is such a refreshing book. Original in its subject matter, characters and writing, it is moving, absorbing and insightful. Its descriptions of landscape are particularly delicately written and nicely counterbalance the strong, macho civil engineering narrative and language. The humour of men working at close quarters in sometimes dangerous situations, the scheming and power struggles of the big shots, and the sheer pleasure of reading a book set in an environment about which I knew absolutely nothing, was a joy. From the aesthetic delights of well laid English bond brickwork to the hardships of life in a Portakabin in winter, it's superbly done. And as a woman I would never have thought of buying fiction related to civil engineering had I not heard a radio discussion about it. Go and buy it!
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on 7 January 2013
I would not really recommend this book to the average reader unless you have some background in the building trade or civil engineering, or know someone who is so you can ask the odd question! I read it as a kindle edition, maybe the book version has a site map and glossary of terms, if it does not, it should!

This was a really great book, the characters are still with me along with the description of the cold, wet and muddy conditions this book is set in. I am a woman but worked in civil engineering so could picture the site and progress, but this is really just the backdrop for a look in turn at each major character, their life, troubles and motivation. A simple story about the everyday life of these men but also a moving account of what this kind of life is really like.
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on 3 November 2012
These days there are plenty of novels featuring work in offices, but almost none about the kind of work that enables offices to exist in the first place. This is one of the few, and maybe the best.

Davidson has drawn on his own experience as a civil engineer in the water industry to write this intense look into the lives of men whose hard work makes our lives liveable, yet who we usually see as indistinguishable figures knee-deep in mud. It's eye-opening on how much engineering knowledge and back-breaking toil goes into something as common and easily overlooked as a pipe under a road.

By the end of the book the reader has seen the project from the point of view of every type of individual involved, and been given a sympathetic yet critical insight into how each sees the job, themselves, the others, and the world. Most readers will see a culvert, a sewage outfall, a bridge or a gang of workers in hard hats and high-vis with a lot more admiration and appreciation than they ever had before they read it.

I once said to the author that his book was 'like The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists without the hope of socialism' but actually it's better than that!
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on 4 December 2012
Confirmed what I already knew that I knew about the building trade. Entertainingly told though even though some events were subject to being heavy 'telegraphed'.

Lots of jargon and plenty of initials, names and nicknames. For me, it could have done with a Dramatis Personae.
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on 4 November 2012
This is my favourite book of the year. It's the Boys from the Blackstuff for a new generation, and should be a massive hit. TV next?
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on 8 December 2012
This is a different kind of book. It simply describes life. No frills. As it is. Depressingly real. Too much for me.

I spent my life in electrical/civil engineering. This book gives an excellent insight into why things happen as they do. The 'need' to accept poor quality or suffer the consequences. The hard life, loyalty and rivalry.

However it didn't seem to be 'going anywhere' and for me it was a 'blast from the past' so I stopped reading
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on 12 December 2012
If you work in the construction industry, but not necessarily on sewage works, then you might find this fascinating. It reads a bit like site report with character descriptions interspersed. If you don't work in the construction industry and have no interest in it, then you might be horribly bored by this book. I enjoyed it, as an office based design engineer who never had the opportunity to work on a big site.
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on 20 December 2012
Unusual book, and I am lerning a lot about concrete culverts and cofferdams. I am still reading it, so cannot comment overall. It is not what I normally read, but is keeping my attention. I could have done with a few pictures to help me envisage the structures that are described from time to time in the book.
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on 25 January 2013
Site Works was certainly not lightweight reading but kept me totally engaged. This gritty, sad, sometimes funny story of life on a construction site had me feeling as cold and wet and tired and helpless as the characters.

Well worth reading.
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on 13 January 2013
I did enjoy this book I also work in this construction industry I do think a picture mite of helped to understand more about the construction industry and make it easier to understand
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