I just read the above-mentioned book by Henry Petroski. I liked it very much, and it should definitely be required reading for anybody in a technical field. What I learned from it is primarily that bridges used to fail all the time. A lot of people ask today, “how come we can’t build software the way we build bridges.” I think a reasonable answer might actually be, “we do.” It’s just that when a bridge falls down the disaster is done. Bad software has the opportunity to fail over and over again.
There were a lot of other books mentioned in this one which sound interesting to me. So that I remember what they are…
David Billington’s “Robert Maillart’s Bridges: The Art of Engineering.”
Robert Byrne’s “Skyscraper.”
Henry J. Cowan’s “The Master Builders: A History of Structural and Environmental Design from Ancient Egypt to the Nineteenth Century.”
Sir Geoffrey de Havilland’s “Sky Fever: The Autobiography.”
Derek D. Dempster’s “The Tale of the Comet.”
Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Celestial Railroad and Other Stories.”
Thomas K. McKaig’s “Building Failures: Case Studies in Construction and Design.”
Steven S. Ross’s “Construction Disasters: Design Failures, Causes, and Prevention.”
George L. Vose’s “Bridge Disasters in America: The Cause and the Remedy.” Boston: Lee and Shepard, 1887.