Small Things Considered by Henry Petroski
Why There Is No Perfect Design

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Why has the durable paper shopping bag been largely replaced by its flimsy plastic counterpart? What circuitous chain of improvements led to such innovations as the automobile cup holder and the swiveling vegetable peeler? With the same relentless curiosity and lucid, witty prose he brought to his earlier books, Henry Petroski looks at some of our most familiar objects and reveals that they are, in fact, works in progress. For there can never be an end to the quest for the perfect design.

To illustrate his thesis, Petroski tells the story of the paper drinking cup, which owes its popularity to the discovery that water glasses could carry germs. He pays tribute to the little plastic tripod that keeps pizza from sticking to the box and analyzes the numerical layouts of telephones and handheld calculators. Small Things Considered is Petroski at his most trenchant and provocative, casting his eye not only on everyday artifacts but on their users as well.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

About Henry Petroski

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Henry Petroski's previous books include To Engineer Is Human, which was developed into a BBC television documentary; The Pencil; The Evolution of Useful Things; and Engineers of Dreams. Petroski is the Aleksandar S. Vesic Professor of Civil Engineering and Professor of History at Duke University.
Published December 18, 2007 by Vintage. 306 pages
Genres: Professional & Technical, Computers & Technology, Science & Math. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Small Things Considered

Publishers Weekly

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The book meanders through this world of design, less concerned with making a direct argument than with reveling in the complexities of the ever-changing design of everyday things, such as Brita water pitchers and freeway tollbooths.

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Entertainment Weekly

Tackling everything from supermarket layout to car cup-holders to even, yes, the kitchen sink, Petroski fashions a lucid and lively account of product engineering and design Darwinism as exciting as a brown paper bag.

Sep 26 2003 | Read Full Review of Small Things Considered: Why ...

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