Engineers of Dreams: Great Bridge Builders and the Spanning of America

Engineers of Dreams: Great Bridge Builders and the Spanning of America

by Henry Petroski
     
 

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Petroski reveals the science and engineering—not to mention the politics, egotism, and sheer magic—behind America's great bridges, particularly those constructed during the great bridge-building era starting in the 1870s and continuing through the 1930s. It is the story of the men and women who built the St. Louis, the George Washington, and the Golden

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Overview

Petroski reveals the science and engineering—not to mention the politics, egotism, and sheer magic—behind America's great bridges, particularly those constructed during the great bridge-building era starting in the 1870s and continuing through the 1930s. It is the story of the men and women who built the St. Louis, the George Washington, and the Golden Gate bridges, drawing not only on their mastery of numbers but on their gifts for persuasion and self-promotion. It is an account of triumphs and ignominious disasters (including the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, which literally twisted itself apart in a high wind). And throughout this grandly engaging book, Petroski lets us see how bridges became the "symbols and souls" of our civilization, as well as testaments to their builders' vision, ingenuity, and perseverance.

"Seamlessly linked...With astonishing scope and generosity of view, Mr. Petroski places the tradition of American bridge-building in perspective."—New York Times Book Review

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Focusing on five engineers and their creations, Petroski looks at the great bridge-building era that spanned from the 1870s to the 1930s. (Nov.)
Library Journal
Petroski, a civil engineering professor and author of The Pencil (LJ 3/1/90) and The Evolution of Useful Things (LJ 12/92), is one of the better scientist-writers around, and this book is in several ways his best. By focusing on a half-dozen bridge engineers who did epochal work, he manages to capture something of what it is about bridge building that inspires passion and dedication from the engineers who design, build, and study them. Wisely, the Brooklyn Bridge is not a focus here, having been covered well by David McCullough (The Great Bridge, S. & S., 1983); instead, we learn about the Hell Gate, the George Washington, the Eads in St. Louis, and, subtitle notwithstanding, the Firth of Forth and a few Canadian spans as well. We also learn about the men (exclusively) who dreamed them and made them real. One quibble: most of the engineering is elegantly explained, but once per chapter, some term shows up that-maddening-eludes every resource in a well-stocked library. Excellent for general collections and perfect for collections in the applied arts and sciences.-Mark L. Shelton, Worcester, Mass.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780679760214
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
10/28/1996
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
479
Product dimensions:
5.21(w) x 8.02(h) x 1.06(d)

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