Publisher description for Paperboy : confessions of a future engineer / Henry Petroski.


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Counter 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.

Library of Congress subject headings for this publication: Petroski, Henry, Civil engineers New York (State) New York Biography, Paper boys New York (State) New York Biography