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Unbuilding Paperback – Oct 26 1987


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 80 pages
  • Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers; Reprint edition (Oct. 26 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0395454255
  • ISBN-13: 978-0395454251
  • Product Dimensions: 30.4 x 22.9 x 0.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 259 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #376,214 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jeremy M. Hanna on June 8 2000
Format: Hardcover
It must have seemed like a good idea at the time, but somewhere between conception and execution Unbuilding unraveled. The drawings are, without a doubt, spectacular. The story is clever, but the love of the subject matter is missing. The story, at its most basic, is about the disassembly of the Empire State Building. The details of its existence, however, are nowhere to be found. There is, for example, no information on how many tons of steel were used; how many thousands of rivets. Missing too, are any explanations of mechanical systems such as how water was pumped to bathrooms one thousand feet off the ground, or how the elevators safely and efficiently carried their passengers up 85 stories.
My suspicion is that Unbuilding's weakness lies at its foundation. Organized disassembly just isn't as interesting as a construction project. To be fair to Mr. Macaulay, it's not a bad book. Certainly, if this were the first of his work that you had seen, you would be suitably impressed. But in the context of his efforts prior to and after this one, it fails to captivate. My advice is that, if you are collecting the series, you'll most certainly want Unbuilding. If, however, you are new to Macaulay's work, Castle, Cathedral, City and Mill are significantly better choices.
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By A Customer on Feb. 5 1997
Format: Hardcover
This is a highly unlikely story. But it is rich with detail, and the author's drawings are, as usual, incredible. The ending is the also a delight. This is one you will buy for your kids but keep for yourself
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 13 reviews
25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
Imagine The Empire State Building Disassembled And Moved... Nov. 8 2006
By Dai-keag-ity - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
When as a child I first read this book, I was captivated by it, as I was by all of David Macaulay's imaginative works of illustration and storytelling. And yet even then I thought it was very strange, this charming and odd tale set in an undefined future in which an Arab sheik purchases the Empire State Building and has it unassembled brick by brick for eventual reconstruction in his homeland (a la London Bridge, which today rests in Arizona). I loved reading about how even a vast building might be "unbuilt". I also loved learning about the interior anatomy of a tall building (which was really David Macaulay's intent all along) and I liked the quirky little hidden additions Macaulay always includes for a sharp-eyed reader to discover (like King Kong as one of the workers on the project). Today in an era when it is impossible to read or even think of this 1980 book without being confronted with the destruction of the World Trade Center, Unbuilding seems even more bizarre and ironic. Macaulay, brilliant and creative man that he is, wrote Unbuilding in another age, a more confident time and place, when it was unthinkable that New York's skyscrapers, those mighty symbols of commerce and human achievement, were in any way endangered by anything less titanic than nuclear war, or that they would not stand for millennia, the Gothic cathedrals of an age wherein faith was replaced by the relative egalitarianism of free-flowing commerce. Ah, how different was my perception of Unbuilding upon my most recent reading: the first since at least the early 1990's. I was keenly aware that in 2006 this book might never be marketed at all, and if it was how different its plot would have been. Nonetheless, or perhaps for that very reason, Unbuilding seems more important than ever to me, and I hope it stays in print for a long time to come. Read this thirty-page book if you get a chance. It says a lot about the near-miraculous process by which tall buildings are made, and it shines metaphorical light on the psychological reactions of we contemporary Americans.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Read this now. Feb. 5 1997
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This is a highly unlikely story. But it is rich with detail, and the author's drawings are, as usual, incredible. The ending is the also a delight. This is one you will buy for your kids but keep for yourself
41 of 58 people found the following review helpful
There are Better Choices June 8 2000
By Jeremy M. Hanna - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
It must have seemed like a good idea at the time, but somewhere between conception and execution Unbuilding unraveled. The drawings are, without a doubt, spectacular. The story is clever, but the love of the subject matter is missing. The story, at its most basic, is about the disassembly of the Empire State Building. The details of its existence, however, are nowhere to be found. There is, for example, no information on how many tons of steel were used; how many thousands of rivets. Missing too, are any explanations of mechanical systems such as how water was pumped to bathrooms one thousand feet off the ground, or how the elevators safely and efficiently carried their passengers up 85 stories.
My suspicion is that Unbuilding's weakness lies at its foundation. Organized disassembly just isn't as interesting as a construction project. To be fair to Mr. Macaulay, it's not a bad book. Certainly, if this were the first of his work that you had seen, you would be suitably impressed. But in the context of his efforts prior to and after this one, it fails to captivate. My advice is that, if you are collecting the series, you'll most certainly want Unbuilding. If, however, you are new to Macaulay's work, Castle, Cathedral, City and Mill are significantly better choices.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Very interesting for children as well as adults :-) Feb. 7 2014
By Ellen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I found this book easy to read, with excellent pictures. We need our young people interested in engineering and understand what it means. Fascinating! Fantastic books for young engineers (to be)!
Deconstruction July 13 2014
By Fredrica B. Depew - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is my least favorite of David Macauley's book on our structures and infrastructures because he constructs a silly story about the deconstruction of the Empire State Building, but it has good information in it nonetheless.

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