Brunel: The Man Who Built the World

Steven Brindle, Author, Dan Cruickshank, Introduction by
Steven Brindle, Author, Dan Cruickshank, Introduction by George Weidenfeld & Nicholson $34.95 (287p) ISBN 978-0-297-84408-2
Reviewed on: 09/01/2005
Release date: 09/01/2005
Paperback - 196 pages - 978-0-7538-2125-1
Open Ebook - 208 pages - 978-1-78022-648-4
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The title, at first, seems impossibly hyperbolic, because it is: Isambard Kingdom Brunel did not, in fact, build the world. However, the things he did build-steamships, bridges, tunnels, train stations-are staggering feats that continue to influence civil engineering today. This book's strength lies in its well thought-out organization: rather than a play-by-play recount of Brunel's life and times, the author organizes chapters according to different genres of his work, separating, for instance, railways from bridges and ""The Three Great Ships."" Exquisite historical photos, including elegantly rendered fold-out illustrations depicting the plan Brunel drew for the Thames Tunnel, give remarkable insight into the mind of the engineer and his preparation for the project. But, as evidenced by the book's overblown subtitle, the writing suffers lapses into hyperbole: ""Brunel's genius had conceived her, his charisma had foisted this vision onto his dazzled contemporaries, including Scott Russell, and lured the money out of their pockets,"" Brindle writes of the steamship Great Eastern. Brindle, ever the steadfastly enthusiastic guide, in loading this book with illustrations and reproductions, has given engineers and history buffs much to appreciate. 100 color illustrations, 50 b/w photos.
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