Although the subject is fascinating, I did not like this book very much at all. First of all, it contains far too few illustrations. Not like I need a picture book, but the book is *about* how things look. In fact, at one point the author mentions that a device is clearly depicted in a (presumably famous) painting, but then fails to show it to us! To compensate, he attempts to use highly descriptive language. However, the word choices are often obscure and the sentences difficult to parse. In any case, variations on the saw (for example) are easier to show than tell. He also exaggerates the properties of inventions to bolster his arguments. For example, although weaker than tin cans, modern aluminum cans are hardly "collapsible cream puffs" (p.190), while the chapter on the evolution of silverware would have you believe that eating something without its dedicated fork variant is practically
The "message" of this book is that the statement "Form follows function" is false, and that it should be, "Form follows failure". He means that the current form of an object is determined by analysis of the failures of previous forms. Yet the revised form is determined by the function of the object, so this seems to be merely a rewording of the original saying. As he elaborates, it becomes increasingly clear that the issue is semantics, not the process of engineering.
This book would be greatly improved if the author had left out the weak "moral", stuck to the history of the inventions, and replaced many of the long descriptions with diagrams.