690: Collapse by Phillip Wearne

by Gerard


690. Wearne, Phillip. Collapse: When Buildings Fall Down. New York: TV Books, 2000. 244 pp. ISBN 1-57500-144-6.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 600: Technology
  • 690: Buildings

Buildings are supposed to stand forever. It’s a pretty simple assumption. You build something, and it should stay there. Rarely are things so simple in life, however. Phillip Wearne’s Collapse catalogs eleven of the worst structural engineering failures of the past century and show how simple human miscalculation, incompetence, and even greed led to their downfall. From the Hartford Coliseum roof collapse to the 1981 Hyatt Regency walkway collapse to the crippling bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Wearne’s detailed analysis of each failure helps those thinking about getting into the field of engineering. Each fall prevents the next (we hope). The writing here is dutiful and mildly interesting. Wearne takes official reports into account along with eyewitness interviews in an effort to paint a complete picture of each event. While the book’s design and cover look like something from a B-movie, Wearne takes his subject matter very seriously and it shows. All in all, it was a perfectly competent book.