Another engaging introduction to made objects from the prolific author of Machines and How They Work (1983). A more accurate subtitle might be ""Lean-to to Cathedral,"" for Weiss casts his eye over the whole range of traditional shelter design, from brush piles to Japanese houses, concluding with stone buildings and geodesic domes. Plenty of sketchy pen-and-ink drawings add detail to the discussion, with an occasional cartoony human figure thrown in to shew scale and lighten the tone--though it hardly needs lightening: readers may not ""yearn for a yurt,"" but they will be amused to learn that in tropical climes raised houses keep out ""snakes, tarantulas, tigers and all sorts of other disagreeable creatures,"" and that people enter some buried houses ""like Santa Claus--by walking over the roof."" Weiss also avoids stereotyping, pointing out regional differences in style or materials and mentioning that modern housing alternatives exist, but (in the interests of brevity) his analyses are sometimes hasty (not everyone will agree that log-cabin construction doesn't require much skill) or incomplete (e.g., no mention of adobe's insulating qualities). A bibliography and index would have made this more useful, but it's still a relaxed, illuminating introduction to the subject.