rustI have said it before, just about every subject can lead to a compelling book. Like the idea that every person has an interesting story, you can take a seemingly common item, substance or thing and with the proper research and talent, turn its story into a great read. Such is the case with this week’s book: Rust: The Longest War by Jonathan Waldman.

Yes, Rust: The Longest War is basically a history of rust, you know, that thing that destroyed your favorite car and leads to a nice but destructive patina. It turns out rust is one of the most expensive things we as a society have to deal with as it destroys all sort of things and eats away our infrastructure, costing the US billions every year. In his fine book, Mr. Waldman presents the story of rust and takes us on a journey to discover what we know about it, its effects and how we are fighting back.

About Rust: The Longest War by Jonathan Waldman: “It has been called ‘the great destroyer’ and ‘the evil.’ The Pentagon refers to it as ‘the pervasive menace.’ It destroys cars, fells bridges, sinks ships, sparks house fires, and nearly brought down the Statue of Liberty. Rust costs America more than $400 billion per year—more than all other natural disasters combined. In a thrilling drama of man versus nature, journalist Jonathan Waldman travels from Key West, Florida, to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, to meet the colorful and often reclusive people who are fighting our mightiest and unlikeliest enemy. He sneaks into an abandoned steelworks with a brave artist, and then he nearly gets kicked out of Ball Corporation’s Can School. Across the Arctic, he follows a massive high-tech robot that hunts for rust in the Alaska pipeline. On a Florida film set he meets the Defense Department’s rust ambassador, who reveals that the navy’s number one foe isn’t a foreign country but oxidation itself. At Home Depot’s mother ship in Atlanta, he hunts unsuccessfully for rust products with the store’s rust-products buyer—and then tracks down some snake-oil salesmen whose potions are not for sale at the Rust Store. Along the way, Waldman encounters flying pigs, Trekkies, decapitations, exploding Coke cans, rust boogers, and nerdy superheroes.”

Part history, part memoir, and all interesting, Mr. Waldman’s examination of public enemy number one is worth a read and will definitely enlighten you on our common foe.

Rust: The Longest War by Jonathan Waldman is available from Amazon and other fine booksellers.