Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

In this fascinating exploration for lay readers, Blockley lucidly explains both the basic forces at work on every bridge-tension, compression, and shear-and the structural elements combating those forces: beams, arches, trusses, and suspension cables. He succeeds in his desire to "read a bridge like a book." Following fellow civil engineers and writers David Billington and Henry Petroski, Blockley makes clear that engineers as much as architects and scientists design bridges and that technology is not merely "applied science." The author provides an excellent history of bridge construction, from primitive rope bridges and Roman aqueducts to 19th- and 20th-century railroad bridges and contemporary achievements like Japan's Akashi-Kaiky Bridge, which has the largest central span of any suspension bridge. The author also discusses important bridge failures and the lessons learned from them, including the Minnesota I-35 bridge, and the less seriously damaged London Millennium Bridge, which was closed for two years after opening day's huge crowds caused wobbling. Blockley concludes that bridges do not merely transport people and goods but also "help us express some of our deepest emotions." Bold, insightful statements help make this a remarkable work. 50 b&w illus. (Mar.) Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.


Choice
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.

This work about the fundamentals of bridge design and behavior contains much historical material and descriptions of old and new bridges, including London's Millennium Bridge, the Brooklyn Bridge, San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge, and Sydney's Harbour Bridge. Civil engineer Blockley (emer., Univ. of Bristol, UK) begins this seven-chapter book with a discussion of "BATS," which refers to "beams that bend, arches that compress, trusses that compress and stretch, and suspension bridges that hang." The second chapter focuses on arches. The third chapter, which discusses bending, contains a good description of shear and moment diagrams. The author then covers trusses, including statics and welding, followed by an interesting survey of suspension bridges and an examination of internal forces. A useful chapter on safety provides lucid explanations of basic structural mechanics and plastic hinges. The book concludes with "Bridges Built by People for People: Processes for Joined-up Thinking," which includes discussions of politics, safety, and Terzaghi and Peck's observational method. The work is somewhat repetitive and wordy, and there is little continuity and integration between the chapters. However, it will be a helpful resource for civil engineering undergraduates. Summing Up: Recommended. Engineering collections serving lower- and upper-division undergraduates. A. M. Strauss Vanderbilt University


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Bridges vault valleys and leap rivers, but how? British civil-engineering professor Blockley answers in this attempt to help nontechnical readers understand the technical issues bridge builders have to face. Emanating from the engineer's abiding anxiety to ensure against structural failure, such issues are successfully clarified in the author's engaging presentation. Essentially, the bridge engineer calculates the physical forces acting on the materials and shapes used to construct a bridge, but, as Blockley iterates throughout, engineering knowledge about how a bridge will perform has finite or indeterminable dimensions. The bridge collapses he describes were typically caused by some previously unrecognized behavior, and the collection of behaviors learned through bridge-building experience infuses Blockley's arrangement of bridges into four classifications beams, arches, trusses, and suspensions. If we cross bridges unmindful of the forces they tame, Blockley's text, sketches, simple equations, and photographs instill appreciation for a physical dynamism that the engineer aspires to control. Also discussing the architectural beauty of bridges, this is a model explanation of technological design for a general audience.--Taylor, Gilbert Copyright 2010 Booklist


Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

In this fascinating exploration for lay readers, Blockley lucidly explains both the basic forces at work on every bridge-tension, compression, and shear-and the structural elements combating those forces: beams, arches, trusses, and suspension cables. He succeeds in his desire to "read a bridge like a book." Following fellow civil engineers and writers David Billington and Henry Petroski, Blockley makes clear that engineers as much as architects and scientists design bridges and that technology is not merely "applied science." The author provides an excellent history of bridge construction, from primitive rope bridges and Roman aqueducts to 19th- and 20th-century railroad bridges and contemporary achievements like Japan's Akashi-Kaiky Bridge, which has the largest central span of any suspension bridge. The author also discusses important bridge failures and the lessons learned from them, including the Minnesota I-35 bridge, and the less seriously damaged London Millennium Bridge, which was closed for two years after opening day's huge crowds caused wobbling. Blockley concludes that bridges do not merely transport people and goods but also "help us express some of our deepest emotions." Bold, insightful statements help make this a remarkable work. 50 b&w illus. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved