I come to praise Brian Hayes’s book Infrastructure.

Not only is the writing crisp, informative, even compelling. It is even psychic at times, presciently answering questions that an educated layreader will naturally ask about each object at hand.

Not just does it include photographs that decorate, they illustrate and educate.

Not just those things. This book is also funny. It’s not groaner humor made of cheap puns and gags that certain amateur comedians need to inject into everything. (I resemble that remark.) It is the gentle wit that earns at least one smile per paragraph, connecting the technical to the personal. It reminds me of very few non-fiction works – perhaps the snippets Kenneth McLeish authored in this philosophy book come closest.

If you have a sliver of interest in knowing about the infrastructure that keeps our industrialized society moving, get this book. You don’t have to be an engineer, though it might make you want to become one. Sorry in advance about the long nights.