Thursday, March 28, 2019

Book Review of BUILT by Roma Agrawal


Built by Roma Agrawal

Built is a lucid well written book on a subject that would frighten most folks—i.e. the complicated high end world of engineering with its dependence on math, physics, chemistry, computers, and history.  Undaunted into this subject comes Roma Agrawal, a woman in a traditionally male profession,  who has a remarkable gift for explaining the most complicated things using clear prose and simple examples. The scope of her discussions covers literally the entire history of structures from the Stone Age to modern skyscrapers.

Did you know the complex history of the simple brick, the structure of the arch, or the creation of  bridge spans, sewers, and skyscrapers?  Roma covers them all with supreme ease and a nice sense of humor about her position in conference rooms the world over as the only female in large groups of men.  

If you have done any kind of world traveling, you can truly enjoy this book because you’ve seen a lot of the structures she talks about like the Pyramids, the Pantheon, the Eiffel Tower, the great Cistern in Istanbul,  and the Gherkin and the Shard (which she helped design) in London.  But mainly it was her lucid explanations and wry humor that appealed to me.  I mean what author can get away with a whole chapter devoted to the “Turd Trade” and can put it to rest by simply noting “That’s probably enough of poo.”

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