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The Pencil Paperback – April 7, 2003

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Editorial Reviews


'One of those great books that starts a genre. A witty liaison between folk history and deconstruction, it manages to be both wide-angle lens and microscope. Enthralling.' Stephen Bayley

About the Author

Henry Petroski is Aleksandar S. Vesic Professor of Civil Engineering and Professor of History at Duke University. His many books include The Pencil, The Essential Engineer, Invention by Design, and To Engineer is Human, as well as writing and presenting the acclaimed BBC series of the same name.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; First Edition edition (April 7, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 057121763X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571217632
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,983,358 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This rather long book, given its subject, is probably the most complete history of the pencil up to about 1988. There's a lot of repetition as though the chapters had been written separately as columns or articles for other publications. There are a few muddy illustrations in this English edition. Petroski dwells for long sections on what engineering is and how it came to be, and this is fine but doesn't do much for the subject at hand. I bought it used and will donate it to the local library.
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Format: Paperback
I read this when first published and thought it most illuminating. Petroski illustrates how technological invention, political economy, and practical considerations are linked, and how a technology such as the pencil can shape history.
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