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On the Grid: A Plot of Land, An Average Neighborhood, and the Systems that Make Our World Work Hardcover – Bargain Price, May 11, 2010


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On the Grid: A Plot of Land, An Average Neighborhood, and the Systems that Make Our World Work + Managing Urban America + The Metropolitan Revolution: How Cities and Metros Are Fixing Our Broken Politics and Fragile Economy (Brookings Focus Book)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Rodale Books (May 11, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1605296473
  • ASIN: B004P5OQ7O
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #692,311 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Inquisitive everyman Huler takes an obsessively detailed behind the scenes look at wires, water pipes, and other typically ignored but terribly important pathways that lie beneath our feet. He puts himself front-and-center for his subjects, watching the laying of asphalt in his own neighborhood, following a recycling truck to the facility, or dropping in on his local power plant. Investigations unfold via a pleasant, relatable approach based on the everyday experiences that Huler and his family have had ("I know from my son's delighted cries every morning that the recycling truck usually comes by before 10:00..."). The frequent adoption of a high-school science teacher tone ("The last thing you need to know about electricity...") becomes grating, but overall there's enough well-reported, thoughtfully observed analysis to satisfy inquisitive minds.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

“Terrific new book . . . a fascinating read.” Robin Young, host of NPR’s Here and Now
 
“Scott Huler’s fascinating account of his trips through the mesmerizingly crafted infrastructure that
sustains our modern american lives gets us toward an understanding of a system that ought to be
celebrated.”  Robert Sullivan, author of The Thoreau You Don’t Know
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

As a writer for newspapers, magazines, and radio programs Scott Huler has addressed everything from the death penalty to bikini waxing. His books range equally widely -- from "On Being Brown," about the relationship between his hometown NFL Cleveland Browns and their rabid fans to "No-Man's Lands," about a journey retracing the path of Homer's Odysseus. Born in Cleveland in 1959, Huler has lived all over the country and in England. His work has appeared in such newspapers as the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and International Herald Tribune and in magazines like Backpacker and Fortune. His radio work has been heard nationally on such shows as "All Things Considered," "Marketplace," and "Splendid Table" and internationally on the Voice of America's "VOA News Now." He lives in Raleigh, N.C., with his wife, the writer June Spence, and their two boys.

You can learn more about him by visiting his website at http://www.scotthuler.com.

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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See all 53 customer reviews
This was my least favorite chapter, but seemed to be the most heavily researched by the author.
J. Finkel
What I like most about this book is that it makes you think about so many things we take for granted and assume will always be there for us.
Diane Kistner
If you don't know a thing about infastructure, this book is a great and very interesting introduciton!
Sara M

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

61 of 63 people found the following review helpful By Marco Antonio Abarca VINE VOICE on April 20, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
First off, I must confess that I am an infrastructure geek. Although I am a liberal arts type, I am fascinated by the interaction of the many engineering systems that allow modern life to run as smoothly as it does. So it was with great pleasure that I ordered "On the Grid". I am a sucker for a book that traces infrastructure from the author's house to its point of origin.

Although clearly written and earnestly told, "On The Grid" is not the mesmerizing and often hilarious book which the back page claims. What Scott Huler did not understand is that general readers are not interested in his personal journey to understand the systems that make the modern world work. What's fascinating is the systems themselves. It boggles my mind how Huler thought he could tell this story without a single photo or illustration. It is like writing art history without including a single image of a painting. It is possible to do but it strikes me as pointless.

If you are new to the study of infrastructure, I would recommend Brian Hayes' "Infrastructure-A Field Guide to the Industrial Landscape" or Kate Ascher's "The Works: Anatomy of a City" as a starting point. These book do a great job of explaining how hidden infrastructure works. They are filled with beautiful pictures and illustrations which help make complicated systems easy to understand for the general reader. In the end, I think it always better to show how infrastructure works rather than describe one's personal relationship to it.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Mindy VINE VOICE on April 13, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The premise of this book intrigued me because I'm always fascinated by the systems that we as a society usually take for granted. When I got this book, I eagerly delved into its pages to be rewarded with a cool introduction. The author talks about his city of Raleigh, NC and how a recent drought spurred the government to outlaw garbage disposals. The author then talks about how detrimental disposals are (which I always suspected but it's nice to get confirmation) and the rest of the book is set up.

However the rest of the book is sadly nowhere as interesting as the introduction. The author focuses on giving us a highly detailed picture of Raleigh's infrastructure and while that can be interesting, I couldn't help but repeatedly ask, "what about my city? and the rest of the world?" Huler does mention how certain systems vary throughout the world, and throughout history but I couldn't help but get sick of the heavy emphasis on Raleigh. Also, Huler gives much detail that I simply was not interested in, such as the background of one of his city workers, or how he went about contacting the Survey people, how he found out this interesting tidbit about Raleigh. I found myself really trudging through the book to finish it. Yes, there were plenty of gems of knowledge dispersed throughout but I felt like I had to work to get them.

An informative book, especially for those living in Raleigh however be warned that there are many boring and uninformative parts as well.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By B. Collin on January 24, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Having worked in critical infrastructure protection for years, "On The Grid" was a wonderful treat. It's essentially a physiology course for a neighborhood -- how everything works, where everything comes from and where everything goes. While I'm a resident of Raleigh, it's not really a book about a particular town. It's a critical analysis of the economic, political, jurisdictional, bureaucratic and technical factors that physically connect us to our communities.

Still larger, "On the Grid " provides a perspective of the challenges we face in our own nation and beyond. Since the book was written and the world population spiraled to 7 billion, how will we provide all those connections to that many people? How are basic services defined in each culture, and what is our capacity to deliver them?

What started out as curiosity for that world beneath our feet for the author, turned into a journey exploring what it takes to provide us all the things we simply can turn on and off, and expect things to happen, appear, and disappear.

Conversely, in thinking about these global issues, it's also important to think local. Like charity, the "systems that make our world work" start at home. It's an adventure you won't want to miss, and I highly recommend "On The Grid." Hope you enjoy it as much as I did -- and it piques your curiosity for what lies below as well.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By James Duckett VINE VOICE on August 19, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I work for my local city and thought I would pick this up to learn more about what other departments in my city do. I loved it!! I learned a lot of the things that just happen without giving any thought or appreciation to it (ie, turning on the faucet or what happens AFTER you flush the toilet). I enjoyed the voice of Scott Huler and could not put this book down as soon as I started reading it.

Also, since I'm getting into writing, I have found this helpful in world building, especially since Scott doesn't just tell us how his city handles things but gives a history dating back thousands of years on how they used to do things and how they have evolved. He really covered things that I had never considered before and, again, really gave me an appreciation into what goes into building a city. Turns out it is nothing like Sim City!!

I think people will learn something new if you pick this up, even though it might be a little trivial. If anything, it will give you a deeper appreciation for the things that local government does. I've gained an even more deeper understanding and appreciation for those I work with.
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