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Bridges: A History of the World's Most Famous and Important Spans Hardcover – January 10, 1997

4.4 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In her follow-up to Skyscrapers, Judith Dupré has taken her initial concept and turned it on its side. Bridges, like its predecessor, is a large-format hardcover book that opens to an impressive span a yard across. The format lends itself well to the material, displaying the many exquisite panoramic shots of bridges in full splendor. The impressive black-and-white photographs convey the majesty, elegance, and beauty of these structures.

Bridges is more than a picture book, however. Dupré presents a chronological collection of more than 45 bridges, from early Roman aqueducts to the most recent accomplishments of this century. Each bridge is accompanied by text that, together with the photos, provides the reader with informative background, anecdotes, and cultural and historical context. For fact seekers, the relevant names and numbers are readily accessible. For the parents of inquisitive children, "cantilever" will roll from the tongue as easily as "tension" and "torsion."

Dupré quietly proclaims in her introduction, "The unassuming poetry of bridges reveals itself to those who would see them." The author manages to convey this very poetry by giving us the tools to understand the power and grace of the bridge.


Judith Dupre captivates the eye, mind and imagination in this ode to the greatest spans and cantilevers of the world. Admittedly fascinated by the way bridges weave in and out of the fabric of life, Ms. Dupre chronicles their history from the magnificent Roman aqueduct Pont du Gard, built in 18 B.C., to the longest suspension span in the world, the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge of Japan, to be completed next year.

Published in October as a sequel to Skyscrapers, which was released last year by Black Dog & Leventhal and sold 250,000 copies, the book's appearance is as unusual as some of the bridges discussed. Measuring 18 inches wide and 7 1/2 inches high, the hand-bound book opens to a yard across. Viewing books as objects. Ms. Dupre collaborated with the book designer Allison Russo on its striking format. Black and white photographs accompany informative essays on 47 bridges, which encapsulate the longings, hope and genius embodied in each structure. -- Ireen E. Kudra, New York Times, December 7, 1997

Quick: Name two famous bridge engineers. Can't do it? You're not alone. Although some of these leaps of wood, stone or steel are beloved icons, their creators have been largely forgotten. Who, for instance, recalls Thomas Telford, notable for having raised the first major suspension bridge in Scotland? Or Othmar Ammann, the Swiss-born designer who gave New York City six of its skyline-enhancing spans was?

If Judith Dupre has done nothing more in this well-illustrated volume than resurrect the memory of such influential builders, it would still be commendable. But Bridges, the playfully extra-wide sequel to her extra-tall Skyscrapers, is both a tribute and a trivia trove. History-minded travelers will enjoy learning that London's Tower Bridge was disparaged as "the most monstrous and preposterous architectural sham" when it was completed in 1894. Equally fun is the tale of French King Henry IV who was so pleased with Paris' Pont Neuf that he leapt its entire length from pier to pier while the bridge was still being built. -- J. Kingston Pierce, Historic Traveler, February 1998


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers (January 10, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1884822754
  • ISBN-13: 978-1884822759
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 0.6 x 18.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #878,831 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
It reminds me of how they put together movies these days. Grab some stock photos, find a writer without any knowledge of the subject, put in a big name star who's irrelevant to the whole enterprise (Frank Gehry) and put it all together in a unique package (a long narrow book). Its all about packaging, and nothing about content.
The book purports to be a history of the most famous and important bridge spans, but the few factoids that make it into print are usually wrong (even the most cursory peer reviewer would know that the San Francisco earthquake was in 1906 not 1909), and no one will be enlightened by the author's description of the Tacoma Narrows or San Francisco Bay bridge failures).
What was particularly disconcerting was to read on the back page that the author, rather than being interested in her subject, is concerned with "exploring the interaction of text and image on the printed page."
They don't even take advantage of the books unique length to show elevation views of its subjects. Rather, the stock photos are cropped to fit on a single page.
I wish they would put Leonhardts books on bridges back in print. I'm sick of these feeble efforts that are all style and no content.
Mark Yashinsky, Senior Bridge Engineer, California Department of Transportation
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By A Customer on December 22, 1997
Format: Hardcover
Show an average person the Golden Gate or the Brooklyn Bridge and watch their eyes light up. Tell that average person some history or what design methods were used, and watch their eyes glaze over. History, technology and entertainment is a difficult mix, especially in print, but Judith Dupre' combines them wonderfully in "Bridges" - a worthy follow-up to her best selling "Skyscrapers". Fifty of history's most famous spans are detailed in this wonderful collage of text, photos, graphics and trivia bits. Bridges are wide, and so is this book, which measures a full 36 inches when opened. One most appealing aspect of Judith Dupre's work is the many "sidebar" views she takes of her subjects. Pages are devoted to covered bridges, portable bridges used in war, bridge catastrophes, even "Bridges in the Movies". An interview with the Guinness Book record holder for "most suspension bridges walked across" offers a personal dimension, and mirrors the passion that many readers no doubt feel for these creations. This is a fun book, suitable for the aficionado or for people who would like to enjoy the subject without being overpowered. The author is not afraid to have fun with her subject, and that makes "Bridges" a fun book you will enjoy for a long time! - Jeff Herzer
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Format: Hardcover
Every day we traverse bridges in our daily lives, scarcely to give them thought. Dupre pulls back the veil and brings highlight to these engineering feats. From the simple to the revolutionary, we are brought on a tour of bridges through time, and around the globe. The superlatives are here: the longest suspension bridge, highest, oldest. But it's not a book about the superlative; it's about what moves us forward in our quest for technology, and for our ability to move across space in a timely manner. It highlights those bridges that mean something to us: where the Romans said "let's make a permanent way of moving water." Where politics came into play and tried to prevent bridges that we can't imagine not being there like the Golden Gate Bridge. Bridges become important to history such as the ones over the Rhine during the World War. And sometimes when we make mistakes and things don't work out like we planned - the most spectacular example being the Tacoma Narrows Bridge that lasted all of 4 months.
But as she shows in her book "Skyscrapers," there is an intertwining of form and function, and where man built up in buildings, he builds out via bridges. The book's design even emphasizes - where Skyscrapers was an extremely tall and thin book, Bridges goes for width, to try and bring the spans into the range of the printed page. Yet so often, the task is not possible, and even on the wide pages the bridge disappears into the distance.
The book looks at the engineering involved, but does not dwell on it. Rather it celebrates how the improvement of engineering practices have been able to move man forward. A veritable love poem to something that we often take too much for granted.
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Format: Hardcover
Regarding Judith Dupre, the author of Bridges: A History of the World's Most Famous and Important Spans...As an author of 5 books on Balkan history and music, including my 1992 book Kosovo, I am also the publisher of over 177 books. I really get ticked off when authors do not thoroughly research what they write and I find it repugnant that a publisher would print bigoted and inaccurate hate speech while pretending to be professional publishers. Immediately after the Civil Wars that dismembered former Yugoslavia I remember reading a cookbook by Alice Waters, a famous chef in San Francisco who could not resist using her book to attack the Serbs. Ms. Waters a bigot, did not enlighten her readers with accuracy any more than Judith Dupre did in Bridges: A History of the World's Most Famous and Important Spans. The bridge in Mostar was not destroyed by the Serbs as she wrote, there were no Serbs left in Mostar when the bridge was destroyed as over 35,000 of them were "ethnically cleansed" a year earlier with several dozen being killed. The 16th Century Mostar Bridge stood over the Neretva Media Cleansing: Dirty Reporting Journalism and Tragedy in Yugoslavia River for 427 years and it was destroyed by the Croatian Army, during the Croat-Bosnian War, but let us not allow the facts to get in the way of a good book. My last thought... was Judith Dupre a politically astute writer about the Balkans or was this a sleazy way for her editors to gain some extra traction for book sales in the Balkan and ethnic communities?
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