Rust: The Longest War

Rust: The Longest War is an entertaining, quirky tour through the landscape of oxidation and other forms of corrosion. It's full of stories about decaying structures, heroic solutions and characters whose egos and short-sightedness made bad problems worse; Jonathan Waldman introduces readers to people obsessed with documenting, studying and circumventing rust's destructive effects.

At 3% of GDP, Waldman notes in his introduction, "rust is costlier than all other natural disasters combined." The Statue of Liberty is a textbook example of its unstoppable and malignant nature. The statue's restoration in the 1980s was prompted by the accidental discovery that its cast-iron frame was near collapse from catastrophic rust. The project triggered political battles, strange alliances and the most successful fundraising campaign in U.S. history.

Waldman's section on aluminum beverage cans is equally strong; his irreverent wit, nose for a good story and investigative journalist's need for answers are on full display. He enrolls in Can School, a program offered by the world's largest supplier of aluminum beverage cans, and is all but blacklisted when he asks troubling questions about can failure and the risks of using BPA, a suspected carcinogen, to prevent corrosion. His book is well researched and lively, mixing just enough science with human interest, while offering a case study in corporate business tactics.

Including the story of the inventor of stainless steel and a photographer who captures the hidden beauty of a shuttered and decaying steel mill, Rust is wonderfully told, full of little known facts, sly asides and heroes and villains alike. --Jeanette Zwart, freelance writer and reviewer

Powered by: Xtenit