“Infrastructure” by Brian Hayes

A Field Guide to the Industrial Landscape

The author intentionally mimics the style of nature-themed coffee table books, but his subject is industry, specifically the large facilities that you might see and wonder about during a drive in the country (or city).  There are chapters on mining, agriculture, communications, waterworks, transportation, electricity, and probably some others I have forgotten.

Pretty interesting stuff and well written.  The author avoids what could easily become a big heap of boredom.  Lots of pictures throughout.

It’s amazing how complicated all of the systems we take for granted really are (and I am sure this book only scratches the surface).  Many engineers, several generations worth in some cases, have refined processes and systems so they proceed in the smooth, almost invisible way we are accustomed to in the modern world.  This would be an excellent book to inspire students to consider an engineering career.

My only gripe with “Infrastructure” is that it would be better to have some diagrams about the processes that the text describes.  The only illustrations are photos, usually of the exterior, of the plants and systems under review.  While good, it is kind of hard to visualize the processes going on inside the structure without some kind of diagram.

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