- Hardcover: 304 pages
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 1st Edition edition (March 10, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1451691599
- ISBN-13: 978-1451691597
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 219 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #472,558 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Rust: The Longest War 1st Edition Edition
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“Jonathan Waldman’s first book, Rust, sounds like a building code violation. But don’t let that fool you. This look at corrosion—its causes, its consequences, and especially the people devoted to combating it—is wide-ranging and consistently engrossing. Mr. Waldman makes rust shine. . . . At one point, a canning executive hostile to Mr. Waldman’s questions tells him rust is ‘a silly subject to write about.’ It is a testament to Mr. Waldman’s skill and perseverance that this book proves that man so thoroughly wrong.” —Gregory Cowles, The New York Times
“Compelling . . . Mr. Waldman does a masterful job of interweaving elements of the science and technology.” —Henry Petroski, The Wall Street Journal
“Engrossing . . . Brilliant . . . Waldman’s gift for narrative nonfiction shines in every chapter. . . . Watching things rust: who would have thought it could be so exciting!” —Natural History
“It never sleeps, as Neil Young noted: Rust is too busy wrecking our world. The relentless, destructive process has downed planes, sunk ships, crashed cars, dissolved priceless artifacts, and committed countless other crimes of corrosion. Waldman uses our long war with the iron oxide . . . [to] offer fascinating insights into our endless battle with the dreaded four-letter word.” —Discover
“Lively . . . Don’t be put off by the subtitle, The Longest War. Waldman has embarked on the opposite of a slog.” —The Atlantic
“Fascinating . . . Waldman attends ‘Can School,’ interviews rust experts, and visits the Alaska pipeline, among other adventures, to illuminate the myriad attacks rust makes on our daily lives. In doing so, he adds luster to a substance considered synonymous with dullness.” —Scientific American
“Arresting . . . A book of nonstop eye-opening surprises . . . Brilliantly written and fascinating.” —Booklist
“A mix of reporting and history lesson that never gets boring . . . Impossible to put down.” —Men’s Journal
“The story of corrosion is in some ways the story of Western civilization—the outsized ambitions, the hubris and folly, the eccentric geniuses and dreamer geeks who changed the world. What a remarkable, fascinating book this is. The clarity and quiet wit of Waldman’s prose, his gift for narrative, his zeal for reporting and his eye for detail, these things and more put him in a class with John McPhee and Susan Orlean.” —Mary Roach, author of Stiff, Bonk, and Gulp
“In this remarkable book, Jonathan Waldman takes one of our planet’s oldest, most everyday—and most dangerously corrosive—chemical reactions and uses it as the starting point for a literary odyssey. Part adventure, part intellectual exploration, part pure fun, it will make you see both rust and life on earth in a new way.” —Deborah Blum, author of The Poisoner's Handbook
"It is often said that in the Future we will live in the Cloud. That’s a good reason to love rust. A silent rebuke to the hype of the modern, it never stops its good work of blunting the cutting edge. But you don’t have to be a reactionary to love Rust: The Longest War, as I did. Jonathan Waldman weaves together cultural history with a history of the stuff on which culture is built, showing how the drama of human striving and renewal are inescapably tied to limit and decay." —Matthew Crawford, author of Shop Class as Soulcraft
“Waldman is a bright and curious companion in this lively adventure in search of the scourge of rust and its ingenious opponents.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Lively . . . A detailed, fun read with a valuable reminder that every seemingly irrelevant item we take for granted each day is front and center for someone else.” —Publishers Weekly
About the Author
A Ted Scripps Fellow in environmental journalism at the University of Colorado, Jonathan Waldman grew up in Washington, DC, studied environmental science and writing at Dartmouth, and earned a master’s degree from Boston University’s Knight Center for Science Journalism in 2003. He has spent the last decade writing creatively about science, culture, and politics for Outside, The Washington Post, McSweeney’s, and others. Rust is his first book. He lives in Colorado.
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Waldman has put together a book on a topic that, on the face of it and judging by the title, one might have a struggle finding a less interesting subject - rust? Really? Kind of like watching cement set.
Not so. Waldman has a gift for doing what all very good writers can do - he takes a topic about which I imagine few of us know in any detail whatsover, beyond "it's time to get a new car, the body is starting to rust out", and peels back the (considerable) onion on not only rust, but the entire process and impact of corrosion in general - or, as one might say, a huge wing of entropy.
For those of us who love the exposition of the details of processes we've spent little or no time considering, this is great. The Statue of Liberty, bridges, pipelines, buildings....they're all going to hell. And that process starts from the moment that the materials roll off the manufacturing line - everything's on the clock. That 100-story skyscraper? That's going to go, whether we like it or not. Those bridges? Gone. How? How is this possible?
The world is a tough place. Waldman gets into the details on the constant war against corrosion, and there is considerable science and fascination behind all of it. While I imagine this sort of writing is especially interesting to those who have a desire to understand how everything works, I also know that it will pull in those who have no connection to engineering, or similar disciplines. Here's a touch point: if you like John McPhee, you're going to like this book.
Waldman's style lends a bit of gonzo journalism to this chase - he's The Man On The Scene, and parenthetically adds asides that make you smile or laugh. Part of the humor taken from his various interviews and encounters may have to do with the individuals and corporations in question wondering: why are you interested in this subject, since so few are? Which, by the way, seems to be the presiding problem overall. It takes a visionary on this topic to address it successfully both as a profession and as a writer - why else would anyone else care?
I'm glad that Mr. Waldman cared enough to write it. He's a stylist in the best sense - in the same manner that leads one to read articles in the New York Times or The New Yorker on subjects outside of any previous interest simply because they are so well-written.
I had a great time reading this. Give it a shot. You will likely be glad you did.
The prose is of the breezy, airline-magazine type that says more about the book's writing than its subject. And so it describes at great length what the author's informants look like, what they were wearing, what sort of personality they have, where they came from, and what they had for lunch (no, I'm not kidding about that last one). Much of the book is written in the first person, though some chapters are not and in others the intended point of view is unclear.
It is much more about the people the author meets and what they do then the subject at hand.
Readable, but do not buy on impulse (As I did) from reading the title. This is not a Petroski type book, where an incisive examination of the subject is expanded to make entertaining reading.
Jonathan Waldman has put together an extraordinary story about a fairly mundane topic. RUST will have you laughing out loud at regular intervals as you flip the pages to digest more of what he has to say. In the end, you will figure out why this is a WAR, and not just a battle. Mr. Waldman has compiled an immense amount of information into a very small, very funny, and very readable format. The reader will find himself reaching for the next chapter at 3:00 a.m. until the book is finished.
I am looking forward to his next book, no matter what the subject, since I know it will not be boring.
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