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To Engineer Is Human

The Role of Failure in Successful Design
Narrated by: Matthew Boston
Length: 8 hrs and 34 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (36 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

How did a simple design error cause one of the great disasters of the 1980s - the collapse of the walkways at the Kansas City Hyatt Regency Hotel? What made the graceful and innovative Tacoma Narrows Bridge twist apart in a mild wind in 1940?

How did an oversized waterlily inspire the magnificent Crystal Palace, the crowning achievement of Victorian architecture and engineering? These are some of the failures and successes that Henry Petroski, author of the acclaimed The Pencil, examines in this engaging, wonderfully literate book.

More than a series of fascinating case studies, To Engineer Is Human is a work that looks at our deepest notions of progress and perfection, tracing the fine connection between the quantifiable realm of science and the chaotic realities of everyday life.

©1992 Henry Petroski (P)2018 Tantor

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

great book

It's a great book on the theory behind engineering failure's and their affects on future design.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Very interesting

Sometimes dry and sometimes outdated, but it did introduce many interesting outlooks on engineering that are still relevant today.

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Good insights on the history of engineering

Mainly focusing on engineering incidents in the 20th century, the book narrates the history of engineering and technological considerations without using jargons. The insights given in the book can be applied to all fields alike. True stories are entertaining. Don’t expect very recent engineering achievements: the book was written in the 1980s! Narration is being done in brillant pace and tone. Highly recommend to all.

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Very useful insights

Shows how successes become failures and failure may become successes. A book I feel I will listen to for years to come.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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What were they thinking or did they?

As an engineer with advanced degrees and 45 years of experience, this book did not tell me anything new. However, it was an interesting presentation on design failures more geared to the layman.

0 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Miss P.
  • 11-18-19

Really boring!

As someone with an interest in engineering, I thought this book would be a great addition to the reading list. However I felt that most of examples are basically common sense applied back to engineering. For example the author uses the analogy of planning a trip and the different considerations required to make the point that there are many alternatives in design. The examples are painfully obvious and, worse still, over laboured. Rarely do I not finish a book but I couldn't bare to lose another minute of life to this one.