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Infrastructure: A Field Guide to the Industrial Landscape
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Infrastructure: A Field Guide to the Industrial Landscape

4.44  ·  Rating details ·  289 Ratings  ·  43 Reviews
“Original, highly readable. . . . An extraordinary book.”—Anne Eisenberg, Scientific American

A companion to the man-made landscape that reveals how our industrial environment can be as dazzling as the natural world.
Replete with the author's striking photographs, "Infrastructure" is a unique and spectacular guide, exploring all the major "ecosystems" of our modern industri
Paperback, 544 pages
Published September 17th 2006 by W. W. Norton Company (first published 2005)
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Chris Palazzo
Sep 22, 2008 rated it really liked it
A great read for anyone who has ever wondered about the functions of all those cables, wires, and electric doohickeys that litter our roadside landscape. What's that? You mean I'm the only one? OK, fair enough. Well, have you ever pondered how crude oil is drilled, refined, and shipped to gas stations? No? I can't be the only one. Come on, people, work with me. Seriously, this book is really interesting. Maybe I should get out more.
May 06, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science, nonfiction
What is this stuff? You see it out there, stewing in rust or aspirating flame into the firmament and you think to yourself, "I can barely build a deck for the back yard. I can't even identify that thing. Do people actually work there?" Finally, we have a field guide that answers these important questions.
Fred Rose
Nov 30, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hard-core-techie
Definitely a techie delight. Ever wonder what all those things on a utility pole are for? What all those towers and pipes in a refinery are? Why a wind turbine looks the way it does? Many pictures, and good explanations, in depth but not too much so. I wish it was an app though, it's a big book and definitely not a field guide. It has just been updated, esp to include more communications and Internet stuff, the review in the WSJ was positive. I wish I had this book when I was a kid..
Aaron Arnold
Oct 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I have fond memories of watching episodes of Mr. Rogers when I was a kid and seeing the inner workings of things like crayon factories, one of my favorite elementary school field trips was to a local power plant, and my parents learned early on that one way to get me to stop tormenting my brother was to hand me picture books on construction equipment. If you're the kind of person who's interested in machinery, factories, power plants, and all the other aspects of the modern industrial substructu ...more
Hiawatha Bray
Mar 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I love to read about the mundane, grubby stuff that makes modern life possible--railroads, electrical power systems, communications networks, even water and sewer systems. This book covers them all. It's a marvelous one-volume overview of how modern infrastructure works. It's a great book for skipping around in. Just pick a section on your favorite gnarly bit of infrastructure, and prepare to be educated. It's also an excellent reference work.
Jun 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Few books have changed the way I look at the world as much as this book did. Utility poles suddenly became interesting. The ultimate guide book for the physical manifestation of modern civilization. Even if you hate the topic you should read this book.
Brandt Tullis
Sep 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
SO GOOD. This book taught me more about the world than any college class ever did. The world will never be the same... my commute, a trip to the airport, a road trip, turning on a light, pouring a glass of water, using my cell phone - an extra dimension has been unlocked.

I found myself unable to put this book down, which is not what I was expecting from a textbook-type format. Hayes's writing is imaginative, full of wonder, and hilarious. Certain passages are poetic, like his description of walk
Jul 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: environment
Fantastically broad spotters guide to modern interventions in the landscape, and overview of the design and engineering choices that have led to certain forms and systems appearing throughout (mostly American, but not exclusively). Most interesting and pervasive are the full-system tours of mining/refining/agriculture, power generation, and water / waste infrastructure, focusing on the components you can recognize from everyday travels.
Mar 16, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Russ
Shelves: non-fiction
I found this book to be an exhaustive (and exhausting) compendium of things industrial. It focuses on the visible infrastructure of industry--pit mines, smokestacks, water towers, dams, power transmission lines--and explains what you are seeing in the landscape, and the overall process that necessitates the feature. If you've ever traveled cross country (particularly I-40 in the Southwest) and wondered about the random industrial things you've seen along the road, this guide can help decode the ...more
Jul 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A remarkable book on the network of technology that we take for granted but makes our lives infinitely easier. This is probably not an appealing book for those that lack mechanical interest but it is a treasure for those who are intensely curious about the way mechanical things function. The author makes a fascinating read of some relatively dry topics.

Since the book was written in the first years of this century the chapters on electronic and digital infrastructure are probably fairly out of da
May 18, 2013 rated it liked it
What are the conical structure atop flour mills and lumbermills? Why are there 3 wires running along most electric power poles? Why are TV towers red and white? Why are the blades of a windmill in the front? Hayes answers these type of questinos in this interesting book. He apparently spent about 10 years taking photos of industrial sites around the world. Here he explains what they are and why they work. His writing is also thoughtful, beginning with mining and ending with waste management, whe ...more
Here at last is a book for those of us who constantly gaze out the car window at the fixtures on utility poles, or drums mounted in the sky above the telephone building, and wonder: what are those and what do they do?  Chris Hayes offers in his introduction that there are many books for understanding the various kinds of trees and birds we see around us; his hope is to help readers understand the built environment which can be beautiful in own right. Hayes'  field guide is not a dry catalog of p ...more
Dec 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: default
Infrastructure is a field manual and background text on all of the infrastructure that define our modern industrial landscape. Hayes has an eye for pointing out the significance of otherwise overlooked parts of what we see every day, and weaves together a cohesive picture of our processes.
Aug 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Eye-opening and exhaustive.
May 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science
What a cool book! It reminds me of those David Macaulay books I loved exploring as a kid, but this is definitely for adults. It's not difficult to understand, but the author doesn't shy away from getting into explanations of engineering concepts and also some of the basic physics and chemistry behind energy inputs and transmission. The field guide style photos and captions are the highlight, but his writing is clear and interesting.

Of course, some things I wanted to read about (construction equi
Aug 10, 2009 is currently reading it
This is an on-again, off-again really entertaining look at the way we live in the world. It's not detailed engineering, but instead is a quick sense of how things get from one place to another -- oil to cars, coal to electric outlets, water to farms. Full of interesting stuff, and moving rapidly. Makes the car drives way more interesting -- you can go "Hey, I know what that is now!" Read a chapter, put it down for a while, read another one, enjoy the whole thing.
Brian Connell
Dec 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
Very interesting. Lots of good straight forward explanation about the industrial artifacts around us that make our way of life work - which we either take for granted or occasionally simply wonder about. Long. Clear. Good pictures. Only wished for the occasional diagram at times to replace the descriptions of photographs ...
Sep 30, 2011 rated it liked it
It's exactly what it says it is in the title. All those structures you see off the side of the road - you will now know what they are and how they work. The author writes with a certain awe of what man hath wrought, and it's kind of unusual. He's aware enough, however, to note when his topics aren't environmentally friendly.
May 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing
If you ever wondered what we do to make industrialized civilization possible, this is a good book to read. Ample pictures and text explain the technology that makes our lives possible, from mining to manufacturing, distribution, power, transportation, agriculture, power, communications, and much more.
Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides
Too much coffee table book here, I'm afraid. I'd rather have something that focuses more on showing me the things I might see and helping me identify them than something with as much text as there is here.
Dec 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
What a fascinating book! Read and find out what all of those giant purposeful-looking industrial buildings-n-stuff are for. My wife is excited that I'm done with this book because I couldn't stop talking about all of the neat things I learned.
James Eckman
Strictly for techno nerds, if looking at photos of industrial equipment isn't your thing, you won't like this. On the other hand, if you drive by things and wonder "What's that?" it's a nice introduction and coffee table book.
Jun 23, 2008 rated it really liked it
Very clearly written. I wish it was actually sized as a field guide, though. The pictures are fantastic in large format, but it sure would be handy to have in the glove box for sorties up the Jersey Turnpike.
Amar Pai
Mar 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the book I have been looking for.
Aug 01, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: nonfiction!
Oct 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
If you've ever wondered about all that industrial infrastructure you see around you driving down the road, this book explains it all.
Jul 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing
What can I say. I like a wide variety of books on a vast array of subjects. This has lots of pictures and fascinating insets.
Abhishek Rao
May 16, 2015 rated it liked it
Nice pictures, was amazed by the scale of mining machines. A more global perspective would have been nicer.
Angela Buffone
Aug 14, 2008 is currently reading it
Reading this to prep for a class I am teaching in the fall at Suffolk University. Very interesting...
Fred Scharmen
Aug 25, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Clearly explains and illustrates the systems and forces that shape the real functionalism of industrial infrastructure. Awesome for road trips.
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