Engineer , Author , and
Professor of Engineering and History at Duke University
Henry petroski has been called “the poet laureate of technology.” He is one of the most eloquent and inquisitive science and engineering writers of our time, illuminating with new clarity such familiar objects as pencils, books, and bridges. In Paperboy, he turns his intellectual curiosity inward, on his own past.
Petroski grew up in the Cambria Heights section of New York City’s borough of Queens during the 1950s, in the midst of a close and loving family. Educated at local Catholic schools, he worked as a delivery boy for the Long Island Press. The job taught him lessons about diligence, labor, commitment, and community-mindedness, lessons that this successful student could not learn at school. From his vantage point as a professor, engineer, and writer, Petroski reflects fondly on these lessons, and on his near-idyllic boyhood.
Paperboy is also the story of the intellectual maturation of an engineer. Petroski’s curiosity about how things work—from bicycles to Press-books to newspaper delivery routes—was evident even in his youth. He writes with clear-eyed passion about the physical surroundings of his world, the same attitude he has brought to examining the quotidian objects of our world.
Paperboy is a delightful
memoir, telling the dual story of an admirable family in a more innocent,
bygone America, and the making of an engineer and writer. This is a book 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
"[A] pleasant trip though an America that has faded into history, with a tour guide who shares with us both the eyes of a young boy and the wisdom of a grown man." –Civil Engineering
"Petroski . . . can see the poetry in a bicycle." –The New York Sun
"Petroski not only can put science in laymen's terms, but also can do so without killing its magic." –The Christian Science Monitor
"Petroski . . . asks us to see the extraordinary in the ordinary." –Chicago Tribune
"Petroski . . . offers a charming account of adolescence in a much different era." –Booklist
"[Petroski is] the poet laureate of engineering." –Rocky Mount Telegram
"The book is a joy to read for anyone who enjoys a good story, not just working on a challenging project." –CE News
From the Trade Paperback
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.