First published in 1972, The Great Bridge is the classic account of one of the greatest engineering feats of all time. Winning acclaim for its comprehensive look at the building of the Brooklyn Bridge, this book helped cement David McCullough's reputation as America's preeminent social historian. Now, The Great Bridge is reissued as a Simon & Schuster Classic Edition with a new introduction by the author.
This monumental book brings back for American readers the heroic vision of the America we once had. It is the enthralling story of one of the greatest events in our nation's history during the Age of Optimism -- a period when Americans were convinced in their hearts that all great things were possible. In the years around 1870, when the project was first undertaken, the concept of building a great bridge to span the East River between the great cities of Manhattan and Brooklyn required a vision and determination comparable to that which went into the building of the pyramids. Throughout the fourteen years of its construction, the odds against the successful completion of the bridge seemed staggering. Bodies were crushed and broken, lives lost, political empires fell, and surges of public emotion constantly threatened the project. But this is not merely the saga of an engineering miracle: it is a sweeping narrative of the social climate of the time and of the heroes and rascals who had a hand in either constructing or obstructing the great enterprise. Amid the flood of praise for the book when it was originally published, Newsday said succinctly "This is the definitive book on the event. Do not wait for a better try: there won't be any."
In the 19th century, the Brooklyn Bridge was viewed as the greatest engineering feat of mankind. The Roeblings--father and son--toiled for decades, fighting competitors, corrupt politicians, and the laws of nature to fabricate a bridge which, after 100 years, still provides one of the major avenues of access to one of the world's busiest cities--as compared to many bridges built at the same time which collapsed within decades or even years. It is refreshing to read such a magnificent story of real architecture and engineering in an era where these words refer to tiny bits and bytes that inspire awe only in their abstract consequences, and not in their tangible physical magnificence.