Henry Petroski is the Aleksandar S. Vesic Professor of Civil Engineering and a professor of history at Duke University. The author of more than a dozen previous books, he lives in Durham, North Carolina, and Arrowsic, Maine.
Here is a gem of a book. Engineering professor Petroski raises the concept that past failure in engineering design is the handmaiden of future success and innovation. He discusses some monumental failureslike the collapse of elevated walkways in a Kansas City hoteland shows how they led engineers to advance their art to meet new needs. One chapter declares, ``Falling Down Is Part of Growing Up.'' His examples are mostly the honest-mistake kind, and not the sloppy design and testing, for instance, that results in recalls of new autos. But in marvelously clear prose, he gives valuable insight into the limits of engineering and its practitioners. A fine book for general and history-of-technology collections alike. Daniel LaRossa, Connetquot P.L., Bohemia, N.Y.
"Reading Petroski's fine book is not only a delight, it is a
necessity." --Houston Chronicle
"Serious, amusing, probing, sometimes frightening, and always literate." --Los Angeles Times