If a book bears the title "Joining Nations" on its cover, your first thought is inevitably international politics, the UN or diplomats adept at dealing with sensitive issues. So is the Iron Library now collecting political literature? Not at all. Or more precisely, yes, if we're talking about the diplomacy of welding technology.
About the book and the "International Institute of Welding"
In fact, "Joining Nations", which Philip Boyd published in 1993, is devoted to the history of the International Institute of Welding (the IIW) in the period from 1947 to 1990. "Joining Nations" gives the reader a behind-the-scenes look at the diplomacy surrounding the international development of welding technology.
The IIW was founded in 1948 by associations and societies from 13 countries, including two Swiss associations, in order to further the development of an international network and standards for welding technology. The Cold War was present at the founding – the founding members were all Western European countries along with the United States and South Africa. The book's chapter headings make it amply clear that it was not all plain sailing at the IIW: "A first crisis and its aftermath, 1961-1964" or "A diplomatic crisis and a period of further progress, 1965-1975".
The International Institute of Welding continues to exist today and is headquartered in Villepinte, northeast of Paris. In the meantime it has grown to include professional associations from 57 countries, which are involved in the various technical committees and working groups. The IIW also publishes the journal "Welding in the World".
How did the Iron Library get hold of the book?
The book came to the Iron Library as part of a bequest from the Military Academy at the ETH Zurich (MILAK). The previous owner was the former Chief Welding Engineer at ABB Power Generation Ltd. in Birr. Given that the book appeared only a little more than 20 years ago, it's hard to imagine it could be such a rarity. Yet a search shows that "Joining Nations" is available in only a handful of libraries worldwide, and no digital copy on the Web can be found either. The Iron Library will continue to make every effort to ensure that such documents evidencing our technical heritage are preserved on paper and are available to the interested public.