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104 Featured Titles

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Exam Copy
Pushing the Limits
New Adventures in Engineering
Written by Henry Petroski


Format: Trade Paperback, 306 pages
Publisher: Vintage
On Sale: September 13, 2005
Price: $16.95
ISBN: 978-1-4000-3294-5 (1-4000-3294-6)

Here are two dozen tales in the grand adventure of engineering from the Henry Petroski, who has been called America’s poet laureate of technology. Pushing the Limits celebrates some of the largest things we have created—bridges, dams, buildings—and provides a startling new vision of engineering’s past, its present, and its future. Along... Read more >
Also available as an eBook.

Exam Copy
Remaking the World
Adventures in Engineering
Written by Henry Petroski


Format: Trade Paperback, 256 pages
Publisher: Vintage
On Sale: December 29, 1998
Price: $16.95
ISBN: 978-0-375-70024-8 (0-375-70024-2)

“Petroski has an inquisitive mind, and he is a fine writer. . . . [He] takes us on a lively tour of engineers, their creations and their necessary turns of mind.”
Los Angeles Times

From the Ferris wheel to the integrated circuit, feats of engineering have changed our environment in countless ways... Read more >
Also available as an eBook.

Exam Copy
Small Things Considered
Why There Is No Perfect Design
Written by Henry Petroski


Format: Trade Paperback, 306 pages
Publisher: Vintage
On Sale: September 14, 2004
Price: $16.95
ISBN: 978-1-4000-3293-8 (1-4000-3293-8)

Why has the durable paper shopping bag been largely replaced by its flimsy plastic counterpart? What circuitous chain of improvements led to such innovations as the automobile cup holder and the swiveling vegetable peeler? With the same relentless curiosity and lucid, witty prose he brought to his earlier books, Henry Petroski... Read more >
Also available as an eBook.

Exam Copy
To Engineer Is Human
The Role of Failure in Successful Design
Written by Henry Petroski


Format: Trade Paperback, 272 pages
Publisher: Vintage
On Sale: March 31, 1992
Price: $15.95
ISBN: 978-0-679-73416-1 (0-679-73416-3)

Petroski sites some great disasters--the 1980s collapse of the walkways at the Kansas City Hyatt Regency Hotel, the twisting apart of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge in 1940, and a water lily being the inspiration of the Crystal Palace, the crowning achievement of Victorian architecture and engineering--as case studies in a work... Read more >

Exam Copy
The Toothpick
Technology and Culture
Written by Henry Petroski


Format: Trade Paperback, 464 pages
Publisher: Vintage
On Sale: November 4, 2008
Price: $15.95
ISBN: 978-0-307-27943-9 (0-307-27943-X)

A celebration culture and technology, as seen through the history of the humble yet ubiquitous toothpick, from the best-selling author of The Pencil.

From ancient Rome, where emperor Nero made his entrance into a banquet hall with a silver toothpick in his mouth, to nineteenth-century Boston, where Charles Forster, the father of... Read more >
Also available as an eBook.

Exam Copy
Nick and Tesla's Robot Army Rampage
A Mystery with Hoverbots, Bristle Bots, and Other Robots You Can Build Yourself
Written by Bob Pflugfelder and Steve Hockensmith


Format: Hardcover, 224 pages
Publisher: Quirk Books
On Sale: February 4, 2014
Price: $12.95
ISBN: 978-1-59474-649-9 (1-59474-649-4)

In this second novel of the Nick and Tesla series, the precocious brother-and-sister duo find themselves solving another baffling mystery. As the story opens, their Uncle Newt takes a consulting gig at a cut-rate amusement park, engineering animatronic figures for a cheap Hall of Presidents knockoff. One perk of the job... Read more >
Also available as an eBook.

Exam Copy
Nick and Tesla's Super-Cyborg Gadget Glove
A Mystery with a Blinking, Beeping, Voice-Recording Gadget Glove You Can Build Yourself
Written by Bob Pflugfelder and Steve Hockensmith


Format: Hardcover, 272 pages
Publisher: Quirk Books
On Sale: October 7, 2014
Price: $12.95
ISBN: 978-1-59474-729-8 (1-59474-729-6)

Bright siblings—and amateur inventors—Nick and Tesla Holt are back in this fourth installment of their whiz-bang middle-grade series. This time, the twins are out to save science itself, as they race against the clock to figure out why a robotic assortment of history’s greatest scientists and inventors keeps going haywire. Is... Read more >
Also available as an eBook.

Exam Copy
Curiosity
An Inside Look at the Mars Rover Mission and the People Who Made It Happen
Written by Rod Pyle


Format: Trade Paperback, 300 pages
Publisher: Prometheus Books
On Sale: July 15, 2014
Price: $19.95
ISBN: 978-1-61614-933-8 (1-61614-933-7)

Award-winning science writer Rod Pyle provides a behind-the-scenes look into the recent space mission to Mars of Curiosity--the unmanned rover that is now providing researchers with unprecedented information about the red planet. Pyle follows the team of dedicated scientists whose job it is to explore new vistas on Mars. Readers will... Read more >
Also available as an eBook.

Exam Copy
Destination Mars
New Explorations of the Red Planet
Written by Rod Pyle
Foreword by Robert Manning


Format: Trade Paperback, 348 pages
Publisher: Prometheus Books
On Sale: April 24, 2012
Price: $19.00
ISBN: 978-1-61614-589-7 (1-61614-589-7)

In the next decade, NASA, by itself and in collaboration with the European Space Agency, is planning a minimum of four separate missions to Mars. Clearly, exciting times are ahead for Mars exploration. This is an insider’s look into the amazing projects now being developed here and abroad to visit the... Read more >
Also available as an eBook.

Exam Copy
The Chip
How Two Americans Invented the Microchip and Launched a Revolution
Written by T.R. Reid


Format: Trade Paperback, 320 pages
Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks
On Sale: October 9, 2001
Price: $16.00
ISBN: 978-0-375-75828-7 (0-375-75828-3)

Barely fifty years ago a computer was a gargantuan, vastly expensive thing that only a handful of scientists had ever seen. The world’s brightest engineers were stymied in their quest to make these machines small and affordable until the solution finally came from two ingenious young Americans. Jack Kilby and Robert... Read more >
Also available as an eBook.

Exam Copy
Arsenals of Folly
The Making of the Nuclear Arms Race
Written by Richard Rhodes


Format: Trade Paperback, 432 pages
Publisher: Vintage
On Sale: November 4, 2008
Price: $16.95
ISBN: 978-0-375-71394-1 (0-375-71394-8)

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Richard Rhodes delivers a riveting account of the nuclear arms race and the Cold War.

In the Reagan-Gorbachev era, the United States and the Soviet Union came within minutes of nuclear war, until Gorbachev boldly launched a campaign to eliminate nuclear weapons, setting the stage for the 1986... Read more >
Also available as an unabridged audiobook download and an eBook.

Exam Copy
Hedy's Folly
The Life and Breakthrough Inventions of Hedy Lamarr, the Most Beautiful Woman in the World
Written by Richard Rhodes


Format: Trade Paperback, 288 pages
Publisher: Vintage
On Sale: August 7, 2012
Price: $15.00
ISBN: 978-0-307-74295-7 (0-307-74295-4)

What do Hedy Lamarr, avant-garde composer George Antheil, and your cell phone have in common? The answer is spread-spectrum radio: a revolutionary invention based on the rapid switching of communications sig­nals among a spread of different frequencies. Without this technology, we would not have the digital comforts that we take for... Read more >
Also available as an unabridged audiobook download and an eBook.

Exam Copy
Magnificent Failure
Free Fall from the Edge of Space
Written by Craig Ryan


Format: Hardcover, 320 pages
Publisher: Smithsonian Books
On Sale: October 17, 2003
Price: $29.95
ISBN: 978-1-58834-141-9 (1-58834-141-0)

Locked in a desperate Cold War race against the Soviets to find out if humans could survive in space and live through a free fall from space vehicles, the Pentagon gave civilian adventurer Nick Piantanida’s Project Strato-Jump little notice until May Day, 1966. Operating in the shadows of well-funded, high-visibility Air... Read more >
Also available as an eBook.

Exam Copy
Taking Charge
The Electric Automobile in America
Written by Michael Schiffer


Format: Trade Paperback, 240 pages
Publisher: Smithsonian Books
On Sale: June 22, 2010
Price: $19.95
ISBN: 978-1-58834-076-4 (1-58834-076-7)

The tumultuous history of inventors and corporations who have tried to bring the electric car to the market.

Amazingly, in 1900 28 percent of all cars were electric. By 1920 the electric car had all but vanished and gas-powered cars dominated the market. In Taking Charge, Schiffer deftly explores how cultural factors... Read more >

Exam Copy
The New Digital Age
Transforming Nations, Businesses, and Our Lives
Written by Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen


Format: Trade Paperback, 368 pages
Publisher: Vintage
On Sale: March 4, 2014
Price: $15.95
ISBN: 978-0-307-94705-5 (0-307-94705-X)

In the next decade, five billion new people will come online, posing for our world a host of new opportunities—and dangers. Google’s Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen traveled to thirty-five countries, including some of the world’s most volatile regions and met with political leaders, entrepreneurs, and activists to learn firsthand about... Read more >
Also available as an eBook and a hardcover.

Exam Copy
How the Great Pyramid Was Built

Written by Craig Smith
Afterword by Mark Lehner
Foreword by Zahi Hawass


Format: Hardcover, 272 pages
Publisher: Smithsonian Books
On Sale: October 17, 2004
Price: $27.95
ISBN: 978-1-58834-200-3 (1-58834-200-X)

Going beyond even the expertise of archaeologists and historians, world-class engineer Craig B. Smith explores the planning and engineering behind the incredible Great Pyramid of Giza. How would the ancient Egyptians have developed their building plans, devised work schedules, managed laborers, solved specific design and engineering problems, or even improvised on... Read more >

Exam Copy
We Have Capture
Tom Stafford and the Space Race
Written by Thomas P. Stafford and Michael Cassutt


Format: Trade Paperback, 302 pages
Publisher: Smithsonian Books
On Sale: January 17, 2004
Price: $16.95
ISBN: 978-1-58834-101-3 (1-58834-101-1)

What an amazing career. Tom Stafford attained the highest speed ever reached by a test pilot (28,547 mph), carried a cosmonaut’s coffin with Soviet Secretary Leonid Brezhnev, led the team that designed the sequence of missions leading to the original lunar landing, and drafted the original specifications for the B-2 stealth... Read more >
Also available as an eBook.

Exam Copy
Trapped Under the Sea
One Engineering Marvel, Five Men, and a Disaster Ten Miles Into the Darkness
Written by Neil Swidey


Format: Hardcover, 432 pages
Publisher: Crown
On Sale: February 18, 2014
Price: $26.00
ISBN: 978-0-307-88672-9 (0-307-88672-7)

A quarter-century ago, Boston had the dirtiest harbor in America. The city had been dumping sewage into it for generations, coating the seafloor with a layer of “black mayonnaise.” Fisheries collapsed, wildlife fled, and locals referred to floating tampon applicators as “beach whistles.”

In the 1990s, work began on a state-of-the-art treatment... Read more >
Also available as an unabridged audiobook download, eBook and a trade paperback.

Exam Copy
Our Own Devices
How Technology Remakes Humanity
Written by Edward Tenner


Format: Trade Paperback, 336 pages
Publisher: Vintage
On Sale: June 8, 2004
Price: $18.00
ISBN: 978-0-375-70707-0 (0-375-70707-7)

From the author of Why Things Bite Back—which introduced us to the revenge antics of technology—Our Own Devices is a wonderfully revealing look at the inventions of everyday things that protect us, position us, or enhance our performance.

In helping and hurting us, these body technologies have produced consequences that their makers... Read more >
Also available as an eBook.

Exam Copy
Why Things Bite Back
Technology and the Revenge of Unintended Consequences
Written by Edward Tenner


Format: Trade Paperback, 448 pages
Publisher: Vintage
On Sale: September 2, 1997
Price: $18.95
ISBN: 978-0-679-74756-7 (0-679-74756-7)

In this perceptive and provocative look at everything from computer software that requires faster processors and more support staff to antibiotics that breed resistant strains of bacteria, Edward Tenner offers a virtual encyclopedia of what he calls "revenge effects"--the unintended consequences of the mechanical, chemical, biological, and medical forms of ingenuity... Read more >

Exam Copy
At the Edge of Space
The X-15 Flight Program
Written by Milton O. Thompson
Foreword by Neil A. Armstrong


Format: Trade Paperback, 392 pages
Publisher: Smithsonian Books
On Sale: February 17, 2003
Price: $24.95
ISBN: 978-1-58834-078-8 (1-58834-078-3)

In At the Edge of Space, Milton O. Thompson tells the dramatic story of one of the most successful research aircraft ever flown. The first full-length account of the X-15 program, the book profiles the twelve test pilots (Neil Armstrong, Joe Engle, Scott Crossfield, and the author among them) chosen for... Read more >
Also available as an eBook.

Exam Copy
How to Wreck a Nice Beach
The Vocoder from World War II to Hip-Hop, The Machine Speaks
Written by Dave Tompkins


Format: Trade Paperback, 352 pages
Publisher: Stop Smiling Books
On Sale: November 8, 2011
Price: $25.95
ISBN: 978-1-61219-092-1 (1-61219-092-8)

The history of the vocoder: how popular music hijacked the Pentagon’s speech scrambling weapon

The vocoder, invented by Bell Labs in 1928, once guarded phones from eavesdroppers during World War II; by the Vietnam War, it was repurposed as a voice-altering tool for musicians, and is now the ubiquitous voice of popular... Read more >
Also available as an eBook and a hardcover.

Exam Copy
A Scientist in the City

Written by James Trefil


Format: Trade Paperback, 288 pages
Publisher: Anchor
On Sale: December 1, 1994
Price: $19.00
ISBN: 978-0-385-26109-8 (0-385-26109-8)

In his previous books, A Scientist at the Seashore and Meditations at Sunset, James Trefil used commonplace settings in the natural world as a point of departure for probing the mysteries of nature. In A Scientist in the City, Trefil takes the opposite tack, looking at the quintessential man-made environment of... Read more >

Exam Copy
Mustang Designer
Edgar Schmued and the P-51
Written by Ray Wagner


Format: Trade Paperback, 256 pages
Publisher: Smithsonian Books
On Sale: April 17, 2000
Price: $19.95
ISBN: 978-1-56098-994-3 (1-56098-994-7)

Mustang Designer tells the story of American wartime fighter development, including engines and armaments, as part of a nationwide program of aircraft builders and fliers, focusing on Edgar Schmued, the designer of the Mustang. The P-51 Mustang is widely regarded as the best propeller-driven fighter that ever flew. What many might... Read more >
Also available as an eBook.

Exam Copy
Harvest the Wind
America's Journey to Jobs, Energy Independence, and Climate Stability
Written by Philip Warburg


Format: Trade Paperback, 256 pages
Publisher: Beacon Press
On Sale: April 23, 2013
Price: $19.00
ISBN: 978-0-8070-0049-6 (0-8070-0049-3)

Winds sweeping through the Great Plains once robbed the Farm Belt of its future, stripping away overworked topsoil and creating the dreaded Dust Bowl of the 1930s. Today, those winds are bringing new hope to the declining rural communities of the central United States. Nowhere is wind’s promise more palpable than... Read more >
Also available as an eBook and a hardcover.
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