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Library JournalPetroski, perhaps best known for The Pencil (LJ 3/1/90) and The Evolution of Useful Things (LJ 12/92), here collects columns written originally as essays for American Scientist, an engineering society publication. As such, the 18 selections, aimed at raising the reader's consciousness about how important and far-reaching engineering is to civilization and society, are accessible to a lay readers with an interest in technology and society. Several pieces are about particular engineers (e.g., Henry Robert, who wrote the Rules of Order, was first a military engineer) or engineering projects (the Channel Tunnel, the Ferris Wheel); others are provocative (the flaws of engineering software, the creep of technology). Always well written, though seldom off the "engineering is crucial!" soapbox, this is an excellent choice for general collections with a literate readership interested in technology and a good gift for the engineers on your Christmas list.
Mark L. Shelton, Univ. of Massachusetts Medical Ctr., Worcester