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Stephen Biesty's Incredible Cross-Sections Hardcover – July 7, 1992


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 and up
  • Hardcover: 48 pages
  • Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf (July 7, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679814116
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679814115
  • Product Dimensions: 14.2 x 10.9 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #33,166 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

For once "incredible" isn't an overstatement. This dazzling book offers spread after spread of cutaway illustrations that reveal the hidden architecture of 18 celebrated structures, from a Gothic cathedral to a coal mine to the space shuttle. Details are so intricate that the reader will be tempted to reach for a magnifying glass--somehow Biesty conveys a sense of both the proverbial forest and its trees. Two foldouts, each nearly three feet in length, suggest the majestic scale of their subjects: respectively, the ocean liner Queen Mary and a steam train built in 1928. Laid out in the unmistakable Dorling Kindersley style, the artwork is then linked to paragraphs of quirkily explanatory text (one item about galleons proclaims that sailors killed 4000 rats on an Atlantic crossing in 1622; the jumbo jet information includes a description of how air is vented from toilets and how waste is disposed of). Sites are pan-Atlantic--the Empire State Building is shown along with the London Underground--so readers won't mind that the featured auto factory attaches the steering wheel to the "wrong" side of the car. There's not a single misstep in this endlessly entertaining endeavor. All ages.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews

Biesty, who specializes in historical and architectural cutaway drawings, dissects 18 buildings, vehicles, etc. (castle to space shuttle), to show their veins, sinews, and bones. Each meticulous drawing fills a colorful oversize double spread; two (the Queen Mary and a steam train, The Flying Scotsman) fold out to 40 inches. Introduced by brief texts and surrounded by captions incorporating historical lore, facts, and anecdotes, they contain hundreds of minute details of construction and function. Readers may get as compulsive about this fascinating book as they do about Waldo (one challenge here is to find figures sitting on toilets--there are at least ten). The drawings don't yield all their secrets easily: considerable effort is needed to piece together what's going on in the automobile factory or on the North Sea oil rig. Still, this pictorial information will be absorbed in a more integrated way than from a linear text. In one or two places captions point to the wrong area of a drawing, and they are occasionally marred by silly puns. One error: 747's don't normally use microwave ovens-- they're far too inefficient for bulk food, and could interfere with the radio. Overall: vastly entertaining and instructive. Index. (Nonfiction. 8-80+) -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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It's unique, very well illustrated, and educational as well.
Picturesque Music
I recommend for any curious kid or adult as it makes a great coffee table book too.
Robert Nevitt
I found a copy of this book in a hospital x-ray waiting area.
Chris Newman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 18, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I must say that this is one of the most interesting books to look at. Not only does it give interesting facts it gives you great pirctures. This book takes structures and cross-sects them so you can see everything inside. A midevil castle shown to you from all angles, the rooms and infromation on it. Everything you can think of from a castle, cathedral, and opera house to a observatory, car factory, and space shuttle. This is definatly a must have.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By audrey TOP 500 REVIEWER on February 26, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Who of us can't remember the excitement of looking at some wonderful building or structure and wondering *what was going on in there*? Stephen Biesty deserves an entry in Who's Who for thinking of this wonderful format for readers who wonder. This is a wonderful and exciting book for older kids and adults who are curious about how things work behind-the-scenes. While it can be tricky for younger children to envision how the objects go back together, there will ample material for others to enjoy. Eighteen human-made objects are cross-sectioned: a castle, an observatory, a galleon, ocean liner and submarine, a coal mine, military tank, oil rig, cathedral, jumbo jet and car factory, a helicopter, an opera house, a steam train and a subway station, a fishing trawler, the Empire State Building and the space shuttle. The sections are filled with defining activity, and Richard Platt's accompanying text is informative and amusing.
First published in 1992, this book is also a fascinating testament to the breathtaking pace of change we experience. Many of the objects have changed a great deal in the past decade, so this is more a snapshot of one era's mechanisms than a blueprint of state-of-the-art technology. For that reason the book succeeds spectacularly with historic objects such as the castle and galleon, and only slightly less so with outdated items like the tank and helicopter.
If you are interested in how things work, these unique views of engineering marvels in operation will thrill you.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jerry Saperstein HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 7, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I don't know how or why books like this are allowed to go out of print. At one time, cutaway drawings were a staple of magazines like Popular Science and Popular Mechanics and could be found in many textbooks. For some reason, their use seems to have declined over the years. Personally, I have always found them enthralling.

Stephen Biesty is an artist who specializes in cutaway drawings and he is marvelously talented.

In this book, he dissects 18 things common to us as their enclosed wholes, such as a galleon, space shuttle, passenger ships, trains, even a castle. We know what these things look like from personal experiences or photos. But Bietsy takes us inside them!

My grandson was fascinated as we explored the innards of a Spanish galleon (which were certainly ghastly places to spend months) and of 1930s era passenger ship (an astounding feat of engineering). Of course, my fascination was no less than my grandson's, abetted by the memory of having shared this same book with my son so many years ago.

All of the books in this fascinating series appear to be out of print. If you can obtain them used or from your library, do so: they are an excursion into a disappearing art form.

Jerry
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Chris Newman on January 5, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I found a copy of this book in a hospital x-ray waiting area. I could have spent hours poring over it. The cross-sections include a castle, a space shuttle, an observatory, a subway, a cathedral, and more. We see so little of what is around us and this book offers a hugely expanded view. It's like being used to seeing the tip of the iceberg and suddenly seeing the whole iceberg. Like the previous reviewer, I wondered also why only males were shown using the toilet facilities. However, this is a small complaint and the authors could easily correct it in any future editions. I hope they do.

I didn't have enough time to see all I wanted to see of this book, but I was impressed enough to google the illustrator's name. I'm disappointed that Amazon only offers it used, but I do intend to buy a copy. It is represented as a children's book, but I believe most adults would enjoy it also.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A. Bodenrader on September 10, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I bought this book as a gift for my nephew. He is 6 and loves to know how things work. This is a fun and engaging view of lots of interesting things: a galleon, a space station, a ship, to name a few - the illustrations are great, and there are people doing things in the drawings which makes it more interesting than a simple cross section or blue print would be. The intricately detailed drawings encourage a child to study the pages instead of leafing through it absently.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Gavriel Lazan on January 7, 2014
Format: Hardcover
I've had this book since I was a kid, and even convinced my parents not to toss it while cleaning out the house.

The detail of the book is amazing, and they hide some clever and funny "easter eggs" among the many educational parts.
For example, if you look closely, almost every scene has someone on the toilet and/or in the shower. Also, one of the soldiers in the tank is cross sectioned as well and his intestines are on display.

Great book for people who love seeing how things work.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 17, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This is a great book. Its full good info, great drawings and over all fun for all ages. Younger kids might have trouble seeing how the draws go back together on a few.
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