THEY SAID IT COULDN'T BE DONE by Ross R. Olney

THEY SAID IT COULDN'T BE DONE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Olney tells the stories of ten monumental feats of American engineering, concluding with the moon landing which some people ""still believe never happened."" The first structure, the Brooklyn Bridge, seems to have generated the most pride and excitement--and thus makes perhaps the best story--despite the fact that its designer, John Roebling, died surveying the site and his 32-year-old son, who took over, was paralyzed by the bends while supervising caisson work during construction. Thereafter he ran the project from his Brooklyn Heights apartment window, tapping out messages which his wife then relayed to the engineers. Equally dedicated, Clifford Holland, who engineered the New York-New Jersey tunnel named after him, died at 41, after five years of day and night duty, just two days before the two ends of the tunnel met; his successor, too, collapsed and died from overwork. Olney's prose isn't quite up to the grandeur of the more impressive achievements, and you can see him working to puff up some of the others (such as the Indianapolis 500 Speedway); but overall he puts together a sufficiently readable mixture of description and narrative. And the photos--of New York in 1880 with two strollers on the Brooklyn Bridge's catwalk; of workmen lunching 100 floors up in the girders of the Empire State Building; of the Golden Gate roadway under construction, progressing in both directions from each tower--help immensely.

Pub Date: June 21st, 1979
Publisher: Dutton