WorldCat Identities

Petroski, Henry

Works: 100 works in 527 publications in 7 languages and 25,037 library holdings
Genres: History  Case studies  Patents  Biography  Popular works  Miscellanea  Trivia and miscellanea  Documentary television programs  Educational films  Internet videos 
Roles: Author, Narrator, Author of screenplay, Other, Contributor, wpr, Author of introduction
Classifications: TA174, 620.0042
Publication Timeline
Most widely held works by Henry Petroski
The evolution of useful things by Henry Petroski( Book )

45 editions published between 1992 and 2014 in 5 languages and held by 2,527 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

Only Henry Petroski, author of The Pencil, could make one never pick up a paper clip again without being overcome with feelings of awe and reverence. In his new book the author examines a host of techno-trivia questions - how the fork got its tines, why Scotch tape is called that, how the paper clip evolved, how the Post-it note came to be, how the zipper was named, why aluminum cans have hollow bottoms - and provides us with answers that both astonish and challenge the. In addition to an extended discussion of knives, forks, spoons, and other common devices, the author explains how the interplay of social and technical factors affects the development and use of such things as plastic bags, fast-food packaging, push-button telephones, and other modern conveniences. Throughout the book familiar objects serve to illustrate the general principles behind the evolution of all products of invention and engineering. Petroski shows by way of these examples as well as a probing look at the patent process, that the single most important driving force behind technological change is the failure of existing devices to live up to their promise. As shortcomings become evident and articulated, new and "improved" versions of artifacts come into being through long and involved processes variously known as research and development, invention, and engineering. He further demonstrates how the evolving forms of technology generally are altered by our very use of them, and how they, in turn, alter our social and cultural behavior
To forgive design : understanding failure by Henry Petroski( )

17 editions published between 2012 and 2014 in English and held by 2,159 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

Argues that failures in structural engineering are not necessarily due to the physical design of the structures, but instead a misunderstanding of how cultural and socioeconomic constraints would affect the structures
Success through failure : the paradox of design by Henry Petroski( Book )

31 editions published between 2006 and 2018 in 5 languages and held by 2,088 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

Examines many of the failed designs and inventions that led to greater improvements siting as examples the 1940 collapse of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge and the space shuttle disasters
To engineer is human : the role of failure in successful design by Henry Petroski( Book )

33 editions published between 1982 and 1997 in English and Korean and held by 1,981 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

Topics include airplane accidents, bridge collapses, and fatigue cracks. Case studies include the Hyatt Regency Hotel (Kansas City) skywalk, the Crystal Palace, the de Havilland Comet, and the Tacoma Narrows Bridge
The pencil : a history of design and circumstance by Henry Petroski( Book )

38 editions published between 1989 and 2011 in English and held by 1,775 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

Traces the origins of the pencil, explains how it is made, and describes its most famous makers
The book on the bookshelf by Henry Petroski( Book )

36 editions published between 1999 and 2017 in 6 languages and held by 1,604 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

Investigates the development of the bookshelf and discusses the ways in which it is intertwined with the creation of the book
Invention by design : how engineers get from thought to thing by Henry Petroski( Book )

24 editions published between 1996 and 2004 in English and held by 1,583 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

Engineering entails more than knowing the way things work. What do economics and ecology, aesthetics and ethics, have to do with the shape of a paper clip, the tab of a beverage can, the cabin design of a turbojet, or the course of a river? How do the idiosyncrasies of individual engineers, companies, and communities leave their mark on projects from Velcro to fax machines to waterworks? Invention by Design offers an insider's look at these political and cultural dimensions of design and development, production and construction
Engineers of dreams : great bridge builders and the spanning of America by Henry Petroski( Book )

19 editions published between 1955 and 2010 in English and Undetermined and held by 1,495 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

"In his previous books, Henry Petroski has initiated us into the hidden mysteries of such everyday artifacts as the lead pencil, the paper clip, the zipper, and the Post-it note. Now, with Engineers of Dreams, he makes a jump in scale to contemplate those "dry paths" across the rivers and inlets of our cities, those "hard crossings" over the gulches and ravines of our countrysides, those eminently practical but inescapably aesthetic edifices that persist in taking our breath away (when we're not taking them for granted): bridges." "The great era of American bridge building - which from the 1870s through the 1930s gave us such landmarks as the Eads Bridge across the Mississippi, the Hell Gate Bridge across the East River, the George Washington Bridge across the Hudson, and the Golden Gate Bridge at the mouth of San Francisco Bay - called for a special breed of engineer: equal parts dreamer, inventor, and entrepreneur. Since the building of any bridge is necessarily a collaborative effort, engineers of dissimilar philosophies and all-too-similar egos were thrown together on project after project, making for an ongoing, interwoven human and technological drama."--Jacket
Small things considered : why there is no perfect design by Henry Petroski( Book )

17 editions published between 2003 and 2007 in English and Chinese and held by 1,162 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

The ultimate context of design is, of course, the human user. Many designed things are "one size fits all," and so if they fit anyone perfectly, it is a statistical coincidence. This being so, all the rest of us must make do. Sometimes we can shop around and try a different brand or model of a designed object, hoping to find the one that seems to have been made for us. Most likely, we never find such a thing, and so we compromise in our choice, selecting a less attractive chair because it is more comfortable or picking an uncomfortable chair because it looks more striking in our living room. We learn to live in a world of imperfect things, just as we do in a world of imperfect fellow human beings. If we cannot find a pair of shoes that is a perfect fit for us, and if we cannot or do not wish to spend the money to have our shoes custom-made, then we choose a pair whose looks and fit are as close to what we want as we can find. We think, therefore we design. Indeed, there is barely anything that we do, much less use, that does not have a design component to it. - p. 15
The essential engineer : why science alone will not solve our global problems by Henry Petroski( Book )

11 editions published between 2010 and 2011 in English and held by 1,131 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

Poses compelling arguments about why the scientific community must work with engineers to address the world's most pressing environmental issues, explaining how engineering can offer solutions to structural and economic challenges
The road taken : the history and future of America's infrastructure by Henry Petroski( Book )

10 editions published between 2016 and 2017 in English and held by 1,084 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

"Physical infrastructure in the United States is crumbling. The American Society of Civil Engineers has, in its latest report, given American roads and bridges a grade of D and C+, respectively, and has described roughly sixty-five thousand bridges in the United States as 'structurally deficient.' This crisis--and one need look no further than the I-35W bridge collapse in Minnesota to see that it is indeed a crisis--shows little sign of abating short of a massive change in attitude amongst politicians and the American public. In The Road Taken, acclaimed historian Henry Petroski explores our core infrastructure from historical and contemporary perspectives and explains how essential their maintenance is to America's economic health. Recounting the long history behind America's highway system, Petroski reveals the genesis of our interstate numbering system (even roads go east-west, odd go north-south), the inspiration behind the center line that has divided roads for decades, and the creation of such taken-for-granted objects as guardrails, stop signs, and traffic lights--all crucial parts of our national and local infrastructure. His history of the rebuilding of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge reveals the complex and challenging interplay between government and industry inherent in the conception, funding, design, and building of major infrastructure projects, while his forensic analysis of the street he lives on--its potholes, gutters, and curbs--will engage homeowners everywhere. A compelling work of history, The Road Taken is also an urgent clarion call aimed at American citizens, politicians, and anyone with a vested interest in our economic well-being. The road we take in the next decade toward rebuilding our aging infrastructure will in large part determine our future national prosperity"--
Remaking the world : adventures in engineering by Henry Petroski( Book )

20 editions published between 1997 and 2011 in English and Korean and held by 951 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

This collection of informative and pleasurable essays by Henry Petroski elucidates the role of engineers in shaping our environment in countless ways, big and small. In Remaking the World Petroski gravitates this time, perhaps, toward the big: the English Channel tunnel, the Panama Canal, Hoover Dam, the QE2, and the Petronas Towers in Malaysia, now the tallest buildings in the world. He profiles Charles Steinmetz, the genius of the General Electric Company; Henry Martyn Robert, a military engineer who created Robert's Rules of Order; and James Nasmyth, the Scotsman whose machine tools helped shape nineteenth-century ocean and rail transportation. Petroski sifts through the fossils of technology for cautionary tales and remarkable twists of fortune, and reminds us that failure is often a necessary step on the path to new discoveries. He explains soil mechanics by way of a game of "rock, scissors, paper," and clarifies fundamental principles of engineering through the spokes of a Ferris wheel
Design paradigms : case histories of error and judgment in engineering by Henry Petroski( Book )

27 editions published between 1994 and 2010 in English and Spanish and held by 872 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

From ancient Greek temples to twentieth-century towers, engineers have learned more about design from failure than success. The concept of error, according to the author, is central to the design process. As a way of explaining the enduring aspects of engineering design, he relates stories of some of the greatest engineering successes and failures of all time. These case studies, drawn from a wide range of times and places, serve as paradigms of error and judgment in engineering design. By showing how errors were introduced in the design process and how they might be avoided, the book suggests how better quality and reliability might be achieved in designed devices, structures, and systems of all kinds. Clearly written, with striking illustrations, the book will appeal to engineering students, practising engineers, historians of science and technology, and all those interested in learning about the process of design
Pushing the limits : new adventures in engineering by Henry Petroski( Book )

15 editions published between 2004 and 2005 in English and held by 761 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

"Henry Petroski tells the stories of significant and daring enterprises - some familiar, some virtually unknown, and some that are still only dreams - in their historical and technological contexts. Among the achievements are Philadelphia's landmark Benjamin Franklin Bridge, London's incomparable Tower Bridge, and China's ambitious Three Gorges Dam project. But pushing the limits of technology does not come without risk. Petroski also chronicles great technological disasters, such as the 1928 failure of California's St. Francis Dam, the 1999 tragedy of the Texas A & M Bonfire, and the September 11, 2001, collapse of New York's World Trade Center towers. He deals with other calamities as well, such as the 1994 earthquake that struck Southern California and the embarrassingly wobbly Millennium Bridge in London, which had to be shut down only three days after it opened."--Jacket
An engineer's alphabet : gleanings from the softer side of a profession by Henry Petroski( )

10 editions published in 2011 in English and held by 742 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

"One engineer's selection of thoughts, quotations, anecdotes, facts, trivia, and arcana relating to the practice, history, culture, and traditions of his profession"--Provided by publisher
The toothpick : technology and culture by Henry Petroski( Book )

11 editions published between 2007 and 2008 in English and held by 726 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

The engineering and design, culture and class of a useful and ubiquitous tool
Beyond engineering : essays and other attempts to figure without equations by Henry Petroski( Book )

3 editions published in 1986 in English and held by 382 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

To engineer is human( Visual )

11 editions published between 1987 and 1997 in English and held by 229 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

This documentary examines engineering and explains how failures of imagination rather than miscalculations can often lead to disaster and how engineers can often learn more from a single failure than from a thousand successes
When engineering fails( Visual )

5 editions published between 1997 and 2004 in English and held by 102 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

Using original source footage this program examines several major disasters including the space shuttle Challenger. It discusses the scientific principles behind the engineering failures. Analyzing each project, a professional engineer uses practical demonstrations to illustrate miscalculations that cause bridges to collapse, fuselage of planes to crack, and roofs of newly built hotels and stadiums to give way
Der Bleistift : die Geschichte eines Gebrauchsgegenstands by Henry Petroski( Book )

7 editions published between 1995 and 2014 in German and Korean and held by 100 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

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Audience Level
Audience Level
  Kids General Special  
Audience level: 0.26 (from 0.11 for To forgive ... to 0.89 for Der Bleist ...)

The evolution of useful things
Success through failure : the paradox of designTo engineer is human : the role of failure in successful designThe pencil : a history of design and circumstanceThe book on the bookshelfInvention by design : how engineers get from thought to thingEngineers of dreams : great bridge builders and the spanning of AmericaSmall things considered : why there is no perfect designThe essential engineer : why science alone will not solve our global problems
Alternative Names
Henry Petroski Amerikaans civiel ingenieur

Petroski, H. 1942-

Petroski, H. J.

Petroski, H. J. 1942-

Petroski, H. J. 1942- (Henry J.)

Petroski, H. J. (Henry J.)

Petroski, H. J. (Henry J.), 1942-

Petroski, Henry J.

Petroski, Henry J. 1942-

פטרובסקי, הנרי

פטרוסקי, הנרי

פטרוסקי, הנרי. זילבר, עתליה

페트로스키, 헨리

ペトロスキー, ヘンリー