The Pencil: A History of Design and Circumstance

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Faber & Faber, 2003 - Design - 434 pages
41 Reviews
Petroski's witty and unexpected history of the pencil includes a wide range of characters: from the American philosopher Henry David Thoreau, and Toulouse-Lautrec to the great 19th century manufacturing families, such as Dixon and Faber.

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Review: The Pencil: A History of Design and Circumstance

User Review  - Zach Wong - Goodreads

I very much enjoyed this book. It is a fairly detailed look into the pencil and its evolution. Since I began reading it, I have began to appreciate the pencil that we take for granted on a day to day ... Read full review

Review: The Pencil: A History of Design and Circumstance

User Review  - Goodreads

I very much enjoyed this book. It is a fairly detailed look into the pencil and its evolution. Since I began reading it, I have began to appreciate the pencil that we take for granted on a day to day ... Read full review

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About the author (2003)

Henry Petroski is an American engineer with wide-ranging historical and sociocultural interests. He earned a Ph.D. in theoretical and applied mechanics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1968, and became Aleksandar S. Vesic professor and chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Duke University. Petroski teaches traditional engineering subjects, as well as courses for nonengineering students, that place the field in a broad social context. One of the major themes that transcends his technical and nontechnical publications is the role of failure and its contribution to successful design. This is the central theme in his study To Engineer Is Human: The Role of Failure in Successful Design, which is accessible to both engineers and general readers. This theme is also incorporated into Petroski's The Pencil: A History of Design and Circumstance (1990), which relates the history of the pencil to broader sociocultural themes. The theme is expanded further, illustrating the relationship of engineering to our everyday life in The Evolution of Useful Things (1992). Petroski's most recent book, Design Paradigms: Case Histories of Error and Judgment in Engineering, is planned for publication in 1994. After that, he will begin a study of the complex interrelationships between engineering and culture. Widely recognized and supported by both the technical and humanities communities, Petroski's work has effectively conveyed the richness and essence of engineering in its societal context for the general reader.

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