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