A thrilling drama of man versus nature, detailing the fierce, ongoing fight against the mightiest and unlikeliest enemy: rust.
It has been called "the great destroyer" and "the evil". The Pentagon refers to it as "the pervasive menace". It destroys cars, fells bridges, sinks ships, sparks house fires, and nearly brought down the Statue of Liberty. Rust costs America more than $400 billion per year--more than all other natural disasters combined.
In Rust journalist Jonathan Waldman travels from Key West, Florida, to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, to meet the colorful and often reclusive people concerned with corrosion. He sneaks into an abandoned steelworks with a brave artist and nearly gets kicked out of Can School. Across the Arctic he follows a massive high-tech robot, hunting for rust in the Alaska pipeline. On a Florida film set, he meets the Defense Department's rust ambassador, who reveals that the navy's number-one foe isn't a foreign country but oxidation itself. At Home Depot's mothership in Atlanta, he hunts unsuccessfully for rust products with the store's rust products buyer--and then tracks down some snake-oil salesmen whose potions are not for sale at The Rust Store. Along the way Waldman encounters flying pigs, Trekkies, decapitations, exploding Coke cans, rust boogers, and nerdy superheroes.
The result is a fresh and often funny account of an overlooked engineering endeavor that is as compelling as it is grand, illuminating a hidden phenomenon that shapes the modern world. Rust affects everything from the design of our currency to the composition of our tap water, and it will determine the legacy we leave on this planet. This exploration of corrosion and the incredible lengths we go to fight it is narrative nonfiction at its very best--a fascinating and important subject delivered with energy and wit.
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Almost too geeky for geeks
It's written in a style very similar to Mary Roach.... except that, where Roach provided a thick stew of satire, snark, and general humor, Waldman's effort, while definitely derivative of Roach, is more like a thin gruel. Perhaps it's just the subject matter; not quite as amenable to dark humor, than the subjects Roach has written about. The title is disingenuous, since the subject matter is really corrosion of many different metals, not just 'rust' (which most associate with iron and steel). The first few chapters were very interesting, about the Statue of Liberty, and then about food and beverage can manufacturing... but the chapters following those weren't even close to interesting.
I'm going to check and see what else Christopher Lane has narrated.
Superb narration... the best I've heard so far, and I listen to over 50 audiobooks a year. Lane's style is perfectly suited for the material, and he made the most of what he could with it. I wish all narrators were as talented as him.
Hard to say... I really enjoyed the first two chapters. The rest, not nearly as much. I gave the book three stars, primarily for the effort Waldman made in trying to create something like Mary Roach.... but only two stars for the story, since the subject matter probably was the books' biggest liability.
I read/listen to only non-fiction, and wish the category had more to offer.... it's often difficult to find a non-fiction book which would be a natural winner.
- Norman B. Bernstein
I was hoping for more science
- Ian Perry