A great book by Henry Petrosky (1985).

In this work, Dr. Petrosky discusses the role of failure in successful design. He mixes in the stories of such failures as the crack in the Liberty Bell, the 1940 failure of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, the 1981 Hyatt Regency walkway collapse in Kansas City. In these and other stories (ranging from knife blades to bus frames to his daughter's Speak and Spell, he talks about the background, technical details, and the lessons learned.

Furthermore, throughout the book, the author builds upon a theme, that failures have a silver lining, which is the lesson that can be learned from each and applied to successful design. In his words:

"The paradox of engineering design is that successful structural concepts devolve into failures, while the colossal failures contribute to the evolution of innovative and inspiring structures..."

This book, although having enough technical meat for the engineer type, also mixes in history, culture, and even liturature in the form of poem and story extracts to illustrate his points.

A very enjoyable and informative read.