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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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From Publishers Weekly
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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
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More About the Author
You can learn more about him by visiting his website at http://www.scotthuler.com.
Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very interesting read. Had to read it for my MPA class, but probably one of the more interesting books I read for my program. Gives you a really good look at infrastructure. Read morePublished 2 months ago by kylerson
Covers a great deal of the infrastructure we depend on for our daily lives. Tried to show how his house tied into the grid.Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer Bruce
Very informative book about how interconnected all of us are in the 21st century in the modern world. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Michigan Reviewer
Great 'popular science' book to learn a bit about the systems in our cities. Can oversimplify things at times but it makes an engaging and interesting read.Published 19 months ago by Nathan
I got involved in Infrastructure as a volunteer and i had never studied it. This book was a really interesting read and gave a top to bottom view of Infrastructure. Read morePublished on February 12, 2014 by Mary P
This book covers everything from power lines to waste water management. It's a must for understanding our infrastructure and very helpful for a deeper appreciation of the... Read morePublished on June 29, 2013 by Stuart B. Rich
I saw the author at a benefit for the local news organization and I bought this book to find out how the infrastructure works. Read morePublished on May 4, 2013 by Amazon Customer
If you're looking to learn more about modern-day infrastructure, picking this book would not be a bad start. Read morePublished on January 24, 2013 by Andrew
Fascinating topic. Well written. But: you are describing pipes, markers, cables, etc., etc, without pictures. We live in the computer age. Read morePublished on June 24, 2012 by Doctor Bob