The subtitle: Unearthing the History of Demolition. How boring does that sound? But Rubble is a wonderfully illuminating account of the brute task of knocking down buildings. Comprehensive in scope but mercifully short at a speedy 303 pages, Rubble jumps from the demolition of London homes to thwart the Great Fire of 1666 to the World Trade Center disaster. In between, Jeff Byles recounts the clearing of swaths of Paris in the mid-1800s to make way for its now famous boulevards and the lamentable felling of New York City's Penn Station in 1963. Ever mindful of the human element, he also profiles the Maryland-based Loizeaux family, ''the Flying Wallendas of tearing down buildings,'' whose PR-minded matriarch popularized the word implosion. Byles, who describes his book as an ''unbildungsroman a narrative of growth...but one writ backward,'' has built a fabulous work from centuries of tearing down.