This new edition of J. E. Gordon's classic introduction to the properties of materials used in engineering answers some fundamental and fascinating questions about how the material world around us functions. In particular, Gordon focuses on so-called strong materials, such as metals, wood, ceramics, glass, and bone. For each material in question, Gordon explains the unique physical and chemical basis for its inherent structural qualities in irrepressibly fresh and simple terms. He also shows how an in-depth understanding of these materials' intrinsic strengths (and weaknesses) guides our engineering choices, allowing us to build the structures that support our modern society. Philip Ball's new introduction describes Gordon's career and the impact of his innovations in materials research, while also discussing how the field has evolved since Gordon wrote this enduring example of first-rate scientific communication.