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January Books 16) To Engineer is Human

16) To Engineer is Human, by Henry Petroski (.co.uk, .com)

I remember at one heated political meeting, doing a post-mortem on a particularly disappointing set of election results, a relatively new recruit to the party stopped the show by declaring that, as an engineer, she had been taught that it was vitally important to learn from disaster by doing some serious failure analysis, and the party ought to do that too. Well, she was right, and she's now Deputy Leader of the party, and from what I hear has been able to put those words into action.

No doubt this was one of the books on the QUB engineering syllabus on the subject. Lots of interesting stuff about why mistakes happen - the Tacoma Narrows bridge, the Kansas City Hyatt Regency, etc. Unfortunately the style is a bit repetitive and some of the most interesting nuggets - about Nevil Shute, for instance, or the Crystal Palace - felt rather shoved in at the end. Anyway, thanks very much to angeyja for sending it to me.

Top UnSuggestion for this book: The Virgin Suicides, by Jeffrey Eugenides.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 27th, 2007 04:32 pm (UTC)
you're welcome
That was a book that Dad sent to Benni. Dad was a turbine aerodym for many years, and Benni has just started a Civil Engineering program. I am afraid I sent it mainly because of the title. Glad to hear there were good bits.
Jan. 28th, 2007 07:05 pm (UTC)
I recommend Shute's "Slide Rule", if you haven't already read it.
Jan. 28th, 2007 07:13 pm (UTC)
The only two Shute novels I have read are the little known Pied Piper and his last novel, Trustee from the Toolroom, both while working on an archaeological dig in Northamptonshire in my year off in 1988. I enjoyed them both very much and have a medium term plan of getting around to the rest of his works.
Jan. 31st, 2007 11:26 am (UTC)
'Slide Rule' is not a novel, it's an autobiographical account of his inter-war involvement in airship and aeroplane industry, initially as an engineer, later as a manager.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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