Along with some of his other works, such as The Pencil: A History of Design and Circumstance, I’ve found the titles interesting, and the back covers alluring.
Sadly, while the book isn’t bad in and of itself, Petroski’s writing sounds like that of his profession – a professor. His style, while informative, carries the dryness associated with being in academia far too long.
Henry obviously knows a lot about engineering – but his delivery is too formal. Compared to works such as 1421 by Gavin Menzies (review), To Engineer is Human sounds like a graduate thesis. Maybe that was the author’s goal – if it was, he accomplished it.
If it was to make something normal folks would like and want to read, I think he failed miserably.