High Dam of Aswan
Volume 2: Chapter 8


In Building The World, editors Frank P. Davidson and Kathleen Lusk Brooke have engineered their own impressive feat - a two-volume encyclopedia of important engineering projects throughout history. Building The World tells some of the stories behind 41 key projects, giving readers insight into the historical contexts, surprising facts, the visionary individuals and often combative teams behind these projects - even the real estate contracts and other essential paperwork. As Lusk Brooke says, "We have all seen photos of the Taj Mahal, but how many of us have had the chance to read the real estate contract?"

Harvard University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Winter 2007

Many of engineering's grandest feats would not have made it off the drawing board except for a crucial permit or decree. In Building The World: An Encyclopedia of the Great Engineering Projects in History, Frank P. Davidson and Kathleen Lusk Brooke chronicle 41 such projects - from the Taj Mahal to the Brooklyn Bridge - and reproduce the original documents that greenlighted them. Each chapter details the history, cultural context, planning, execution, and historical importance of a single project, as well as little-known facts. A postage stamp, for example, helped determine the location of the Panama Canal, which had been slated for Nicaragua. When Czar Nicholas decided he wanted a railroad to link western Russia with eastern Siberia, he simply ordered it - in a one-paragraph dictum that can be found in the chapter on the Trans-Siberian Railway.

Davidson, who coordinated MIT's Macro-Engineering Research Group from 1970 until the 1990s and co-founded the Channel Tunnel Study Group, hopes Building The World will spark interest in future large-scale engineering projects in the U.S. and abroad.

Technology Review
January/February 2007

This source is an excellent summary of major engineering efforts to improve utilities, recreation, and other projects that affect people's lives on a daily basis. It outlines and documents the ideas and events surrounding the need for, use of, and processes involved in these projects. Descriptions of the 41 interdisciplinary projects encompass their scientific/technological aspects, from the water supply and wastewater systems of ancient Rome to the "Big Dig" highway project in Boston. Projects involve hydrology, transportation, railways, space exploration, and the founding of various cities worldwide. In this reviewer's experience, very few resources provide this type of information on major municipal structures. Not only is this work educational and informative, the selected references for each project include book and journal bibliographic sources, historical and current documents of authorization, and Internet, film, television, and musical resources....Highly recommended. Lower-level undergraduates through faculty/researchers.

January 2007

Building the World is a first purchase for colleges and universities with programs in engineering. Students in other fields, such as architecture, history, and technology, would find the information in the articles revealing, and general readers would find their interest piqued. Recommended for academic and large public libraries.

Booklist/Reference Books Bulletin
October 15, 2005

Davidson and Lusk Brooke draw on 35-plus years of experience in engineering and history, including periods as academics at both MIT and Harvard, in assembling the first encyclopedia to cover 41 of the world's most significant, large engineering projects, from early human civilization to modern times. Each chapter describes the project's historical background, cultural context, planning, building, and importance in history, and includes the text of the original authorizing documents, where available. The collection offers readers a greater understanding of how these structures have transformed the physical world and influenced the growth and development of societies and cultures. For students, scholars and professionals in national and regional history, engineering and technology, law, architecture, public art, and historic preservation; government leaders, diplomats, planners, and social scientists; and the general public.

SciTech Book News
September 2006