Concrete: We use it for our buildings, bridges, dams, and roads. We walk on it, drive on it, and many of us live and work within its walls. But very few of us know what it is. We take for granted this ubiquitous substance, which both literally and figuratively comprises much of modern civilization's constructed environment; yet the story of its creation and development features a cast of fascinating characters and remarkable historical episodes. This book delves into this history, opening readers' eyes at every turn.In a lively narrative peppered with intriguing details, author Robert Corland describes how some of the most famous personalities of history became involved in the development and use of concrete--including King Herod the Great of Judea, the Roman emperor Hadrian, Thomas Edison (who once owned the largest concrete cement plant in the world), and architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Courland points to recent archaeological evidence suggesting that the discovery of concrete directly led to the Neolithic Revolution and the rise of the earliest civilizations. Much later, the Romans reached extraordinarily high standards for concrete production, showcasing their achievement in iconic buildings like the Coliseum and the Pantheon. Amazingly, with the fall of the Roman Empire, the secrets of concrete manufacturing were lost for over a millennium. The author explains that when concrete was rediscovered in the late eighteenth century it was initially viewed as an interesting novelty or, at best, a specialized building material suitable only for a narrow range of applications. It was only toward the end of the nineteenth century that the use of concrete exploded. During this rapid expansion, industry lobbyists tried to disguise the fact that modern concrete had certain defects and critical shortcomings. It is now recognized that modern concrete, unlike its Roman predecessor, gradually disintegrates with age. Compounding this problem is another distressing fact: the manufacture of concrete cement is a major contributor to global warming. Concrete Planet is filled with incredible stories, fascinating characters, surprising facts, and an array of intriguing insights into the building material that forms the basis of the infrastructure on which we depend.From the Hardcover edition.
An unforgettable journey through the daily lives of the brave men and women who have made saving lives their profession. Dennis Smith, author ofReport from Engine Co. 82, traveled across the country talking to dozens of America's firefighters to put together this powerful collection of their own descriptions of their most dramatic and intense experiences on the job. Their stories, compiled here, are timeless testimonies to the human capacity for heroism and nobility. Focusing on the most courageous firefighters, from those who have been decorated for heroism to those who have been seriously injured,Firefighterspresents the extraordinarily rich and rugged voices of men and women who fight urban building fires, who battle sweeping forest fires, who perform emergency rescues, and who face extreme danger and risk as part of their everyday lives. Sometimes brave, sometimes funny, sometimes bittersweet or filled with anger, these voices combine to makeFirefightersboth a riveting adventure drama and a moving chronicle of American heroism at its finest.
A former fireman in the world's busiest firehouse gives a vivid day-to-day account of the challenging events, including the raging fires and fighting a fire in the freezing cold, that he faced during his years of service.
The definitive account-with a new afterword-from the author of the classic Report from Engine Co. 82 The tragic events of September 11, 2001, forever altered the American landscape, both figuratively and literally. Immediately after the jets struck the twin towers of the World Trade Center, Dennis Smith, a former firefighter, reported to Manhattan's Ladder Co. 16 to volunteer in the rescue efforts. In the weeks that followed, Smith was present on the front lines, attending to the wounded, sifting through the wreckage, and mourning with New York's devastated fire and police departments. This is Smith's vivid account of the rescue efforts by the fire and police departments and emergency medical teams as they rushed to face a disaster that would claim thousands of lives. Smith takes readers inside the minds and lives of the rescuers at Ground Zero as he shares stories about these heroic individuals and the effect their loss had on their families and their companies. 'It is, says Smith, 'the real and living history of the worst day in America since Pearl Harbor. Written with drama and urgency, Report from Ground Zero honors the men and women who-in America's darkest hours-redefined our understanding of courage.
Report compiled by a practicing NYC fire fighter within three months of September 11.
Dennis Smith mixes humor in the face of adversity with moving insight as he tells what it was like to be young, Irish, Catholic and poor. It is a tale in which the presence of Dennis's courageous mother, Mary, is never far off, and the mystery of what has happened to Dennis's father underlies all. As Dennis ages from seven to twenty-five, we see him learn life's indelible lessons--how to dodge the slaps of crotchety nuns, wallop a punching bag, refuse to "take crap" from anyone, steal a longed-for kiss, and, finally, stare into death's face.
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