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Paperboy: Confessions of a Future Engineerby Henry Petroski
Synopses & Reviews
Anyone wondering what sort of experience prepares one for a future as an engineer may be surprised to learn that it includes delivering newspapers. But as Henry Petroski recounts his youth in 1950s Queens, New York — a borough of handball games and inexplicably numbered streets — he winningly shows how his after-school job amounted to a prep course in practical engineering.
Petroksi's paper was The Long Island Press, whose headlines ran to "Cop Saves Old Woman from Thug" and "DiMag Says Bums Can't Win Series." Folding it into a tube suitable for throwing was an exercise in post-Euclidean geometry. Maintaining a Schwinn revealed volumes about mechanics. Reading Paperboy, we also learn about the hazing rituals of its namesakes, the aesthetics of kitchen appliances, and the delicate art of penny-pitching. With gratifying reflections on these and other lessons of a bygone era — lessons about diligence, labor, and community-mindedness — Paperboy is a piece of Americana to cherish and reread.
"Petroski writes...with the observant eye of an engineer and the imaginative heart of a novelist." Los Angeles Times
"A fond but clear-eyed glance back at what it was like growing up middle-class and upwardly striving in 1950s New York." The New York Times Book Review
"[Petroski] once again discovers mystery and magnificence in the mundane....By the end, we're convinced that no metaphor for life is more apt than a paper route." Kirkus Reviews
"Petroski not only can put science in laymen's terms, but also can do so without killing its magic." The Christian Science Monitor
This engaging memoir by Henry Petroski, bestselling author of To Engineer Is Human, is a warmly detailed evocation of a more innocent America, and an intriguing look at the formative years of one of our liveliest science and engineering writers.
Petroski's after-school job delivering The Long Island Press in 1950s Queens was also an education in practical engineering: folding a paper into a tube suitable for throwing, for example, was an exercise in post-Euclidean geometry, while maintaining his Schwinn bicycle taught him volumes about mechanics. Turning his renowned intellectual curiosity to the subject of his own upbringing, Petroski unearths enchanting accounts of paperboy hazing rituals, the rules of penny-pitching, and the strange logic of street numbering in New York City's outer boroughs. With gratifying reflections on these and other lessons of a bygone era — lessons about diligence, labor, and community-mindedness — Paperboy is a piece of Americana to cherish and reread.
This engaging memoir by the bestselling author of "To Engineer Is Human" is a warmly detailed evocation of a more innocent America, and an intriguing look at the formative years of one of our liveliest science and engineering writers. 20 illustrations. Accelerated Reader: Reading Level 8, 23 Points.
About the Author
Henry Petroski is the Aleksandar S. Vesic Professor of Civil Engineering and a professor of history at Duke University. He is the author of nine previous books.
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