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Henry Petroski

Henry Petroski is the Aleksandar S. Vesic Professor of Civil Engineering and a professor of history at Duke University, where he also serves as chairman of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. The author of more than 15 books, he has received grants from the National Science Foundation and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Humanities Center.

. Henry Petroski
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The Book on the Bookshelf
Written by Henry Petroski
Vintage | Trade Paperback | September 2000
$16.95/18.95(Canada) | 978-0-375-70639-4 (0-375-70639-9)

From the author of the highly praised The Pencil and The Evolution of Useful Things comes another captivating history of the seemingly mundane: the book and its storage.

Most of us take for granted that our books are vertical on our shelves with the spines facing out, but Henry Petroski, inveterately curious... Read more

Engineers of Dreams
Written by Henry Petroski
Vintage | Trade Paperback | October 1996
$17.95/23.95(Canada) | 978-0-679-76021-4 (0-679-76021-0)

Petroski reveals the science and engineering--not to mention the politics, egotism, and sheer magic--behind America's great bridges, particularly those constructed during the great bridge-building era starting in the 1870s and continuing through the 1930s. It is the story of the men and women who built the St. Louis, the George Washington... Read more

The Essential Engineer
Written by Henry Petroski
Vintage | Trade Paperback | March 2011
$16.00/18.00(Canada) | 978-0-307-47350-9 (0-307-47350-3)

From the acclaimed author of The Pencil and To Engineer Is Human, The Essential Engineer is an eye-opening exploration of the ways in which science and engineering must work together to address our world’s most pressing issues, from dealing with climate change and the prevention of natural disasters to the development... Read more

The Evolution of Useful Things
Written by Henry Petroski
Vintage | Trade Paperback | February 1994
$16.95/22.95(Canada) | 978-0-679-74039-1 (0-679-74039-2)

   How did the table fork acquire a fourth tine?  What advantage does the Phillips-head screw have over its single-grooved predecessor? Why does the paper clip look the way it does? What makes Scotch tape Scotch?

   In this delightful book Henry, Petroski takes a microscopic look at artifacts that most of us count...

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Written by Henry Petroski
Vintage | Trade Paperback | April 2003
$14.00/21.00(Canada) | 978-0-375-71898-4 (0-375-71898-2)

Anyone wondering what sort of experience prepares one for a future as an engineer may be surprised to learn that it includes delivering newspapers. But as Henry Petroski recounts his youth in 1950s Queens, New York–a borough of handball games and inexplicably numbered streets–he winningly shows how his after-school job amounted... Read more

The Pencil
Written by Henry Petroski
Knopf | Trade Paperback | November 1992
$23.00/26.95(Canada) | 978-0-679-73415-4 (0-679-73415-5)

Henry Petroski traces the origins of the pencil back to ancient Greece and Rome, writes factually and charmingly about its development over the centuries and around the world, and shows what the pencil can teach us about engineering and technology today. Read more

Pushing the Limits
Written by Henry Petroski
Vintage | Trade Paperback | September 2005
$16.95/19.95(Canada) | 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

Remaking the World
Written by Henry Petroski
Vintage | Trade Paperback | December 1998
$16.95/19.95(Canada) | 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

Small Things Considered
Written by Henry Petroski
Vintage | Trade Paperback | September 2004
$16.95/18.95(Canada) | 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

To Engineer Is Human
Written by Henry Petroski
Vintage | Trade Paperback | March 1992
$16.95/22.95(Canada) | 978-0-679-73416-1 (0-679-73416-3)

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... Read more

The Toothpick
Written by Henry Petroski
Vintage | Trade Paperback | November 2008
$15.95/18.95(Canada) | 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