am 21. Februar 2000
Petroski is more than a little obsessive. He has the ability to collect an astounding amount of information on truly arcane topics. He is not necessarily the most riveting author, though. It comes as no surprise to see the number of engineers who rave over his books and the lack of attention from non-engineers.
Personally, I dabble on the knife's edge between the technical and non-technical, so perhaps that was why I was able to read this book through. I'm almost embarassed to admit to burning curiousity about many issues associated with the pencil. Why are they yellow, why are they cedar, who was Eberhard (and does the name refer to the longevity of the point?), and why don't old men sharpen them with pocket knives any longer?
This book answered all of those questions and more that I hadn't come close to anticipating. While there is certainly plenty of information to satisfy the curiousity of a pencil enthusiast, the book brings a deeper level of meaning. Performing such a a detailed examination of a common product provides insight into human character and economics. It provides understanding of why businesses flourish or fail, and how that affects the mundane details of our everyday lives.
Certainly, anyone with an interest in the subject matter would be entertained by this book--it is a veritable information orgy on the subject of pencils. However, I also recommend it to anyone with an interest in the history of technology--how it develops, why product categories are made the way they are, and how society appropriates these products and adapts itelf to them. "Everyday Things" was too boring to me to complete, but I read "Pencils" cover to cover. Perhaps there is more to be learned through detailed research into one specific and common technology than there is through the broad brush approach of "Things."
am 22. April 1999
EXCELLENT BOOK WITH COMPLITE EXPLAINATION OF DEVELOPMENT OF ENGINEERING. MYSELF AS A KEY TECHNICIAN IN THIS FIELD WITH 25 YEARS OF EXPERIENCE AND INVOLVEMENT WAS 'INCOMPLITE' WITHOUT READING THIS BOOK. I HAVE SOME DATAS OF DEVELOPMENT OF PENCIL INDUSTRY IN INDIA AND ASIA, WITH BLESSING OF MR.HENRY PETROSKI, I WISH TO COMPILE THIS DATA IN A FORM OF BOOK.WHERE TO CONTACT. MY NAME IS Harshad Raveshia. R.R.Group of Companies.Bombay.Phone.91-22-5703349 /91-2638-62314.