What’s behind door no. 2? A Colossal fact book!

It’s Day 2 of the Advent Book Calendar!

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Behind Advent door number 2 is Colossus – The World’s Most Amazing Feats of Engineering, written by Colin Hynson and illustrated by Giulia Lombardo, published by Templar.

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The blurb:

Discover some of the most incredible buildings, bridges and monuments on the planet, from towering skyscrapers to huge, energy-creating dams and tunnels that travel for many kilometres underground – all brought to you by engineers. Find out how people have come up with innovative solutions to problems, building higher, further, and faster than anyone before them.


If, like me, you have ever wondered how many buildings or bridges were ever made, particularly those that were constructed in ancient times, when people didn’t have access to the machinery and equipment that we use nowadays, this is the book for you. As well as looking at the construction of ancient monuments such as The Great Sphinx and Stonehenge, the book also demystifies the processes behind engineering feats such as The International Space Station and The Shard, explaining how these modern marvels took much less time and manpower because of the advances in engineering.

I was particularly fascinated by the pages on the Great Wall of China – which explained how the Wall is the longest structure ever built, at 21,000 km, although ‘only’ 9,000km still exist today. It is also known as the largest cemetery of the world because around 400,000 people died building it – a staggering fact, as is the revelation that the Wall cannot, as is often rumoured, be seen from space.

The book is split into different sections – for example, bridges, tunnels, skyscrapers, etc – to explain how engineers achieved their end product. I wanted to read even more about the Channel Tunnel because, every time we travel in it, I wonder at how this incredible tunnel was built (basically, using 11 boring machines, for around 6 years!). I was also intrigued to read about how buildings are made earthquake-proof (through tuned-mass dampers and materials that are flexible such as wood and steel). Rather like trees, if buildings can move a little, they are less likely to suffer damage.

With a helpful engineering timeline and a section detailing how modern technology will be used in future projects, this is a fantastic book for budding engineers and architects. Colin Hynson explains complex ideas simply but not simplistically, while Giulia Lombardo’s illustrations are colourful and exciting, lending this subject matter beauty and vivacity.

Thank you to Templar for a review copy of this book.

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