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Blood, Iron and Gold: How the Railways Transformed the World [Kindle Edition]

Christian Wolmar
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)

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Book Description

The birth of the railways and their rapid spread across the world triggered economic growth and social change on an unprecedented scale.

From Panama to the Punjab, Tasmania to Turin, Blood, Iron and Gold describes the vision and determination of the pioneers who developed railways that would link cities that had hitherto been isolated, and would one day span continents. Christian Wolmar reveals how the rise of the train stimulated daring feats of engineering, architectural innovation and the rapid movement of people and goods around the world. He shows how cultures were enriched - and destroyed - by the unrelenting construction and how the railways played a vital role in civil conflict, as well as in two world wars. Blood, Iron and Gold tells the dramatic story of how the railways changed the world.



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Review

Richard F. Harnish, Executive Director, Midwest High Speed Rail Association ""Blood, Iron, and Gold" reminds us that the railroads did more than just speed up travel or build up national economies. They literally changed the way human beings experienced, thought about and lived their lives. Christian Wolmar's book should put all high-speed-rail advocates on notice. Trains can return to the American landscape, traveling twice as fast, reprising the social revolution they set off almost two centuries ago." "Library Journal STARRED Review" "[Wolmar's] work is both a serious history and an adventure story. Highly recommended for anyone interested in the growth and global historical impact of railroads." "Publishers Weekly" "Wolmar explores this fertile subject with a blend of lucid exposition and engaging historical narrative. The result is a fascinating study not just of a transportation system, but of the Promethean spirit of the modern age." "Wall Street Journal" "[Wolmar] covers a great deal of territory in "Blood, Iron and Gold," but he keeps the reader engaged by highlighting extraordinary projects like the building of the Trans-Siberian Railway from 1891 to 1904. It connected St. Petersburg to Vladivostok, a distance of almost 6,200 miles. Equally stirring is the saga of Cecil Rhodes and his never-completed Cape-to-Cairo line; and that of Peru's vertiginous Central Railway, which ascends the Andes and passes through the Galera Tunnel, 15,694 feet above sea level. The book also features cameo appearances by such colorful figures as Benito Mussolini, who may or may not have made Italy's trains run on time but who definitely made them run faster and more frequently. Nor does Mr. Wolmar neglect the pop-culture angle: Agatha Christie fans will be sorry to learn that history records no instance of a real-life murder on the Orient Express." "Dallas Morning News""It's not clear who first thought of putting carts and carriages o

Review

Richard F. Harnish, Executive Director, Midwest High Speed Rail Association
""Blood, Iron, and Gold" reminds us that the railroads did more than just speed up travel or build up national economies. They literally changed the way human beings experienced, thought about and lived their lives. Christian Wolmar's book should put all high-speed-rail advocates on notice. Trains can return to the American landscape, traveling twice as fast, reprising the social revolution they set off almost two centuries ago."
"Library Journal STARRED Review"
"[Wolmar's] work is both a serious history and an adventure story. Highly recommended for anyone interested in the growth and global historical impact of railroads."
"Publishers Weekly"
"Wolmar explores this fertile subject with a blend of lucid exposition and engaging historical narrative. The result is a fascinating study not just of a transportation system, but of the Promethean spirit of the modern age."
"Wall Street Journal"
"[Wolmar] covers a great deal of territory in "Blood, Iron and Gold," but he keeps the reader engaged by highlighting extraordinary projects like the building of the Trans-Siberian Railway from 1891 to 1904. It connected St. Petersburg to Vladivostok, a distance of almost 6,200 miles. Equally stirring is the saga of Cecil Rhodes and his never-completed Cape-to-Cairo line; and that of Peru's vertiginous Central Railway, which ascends the Andes and passes through the Galera Tunnel, 15,694 feet above sea level. The book also features cameo appearances by such colorful figures as Benito Mussolini, who may or may not have made Italy's trains run on time but who definitely made them run faster and more frequently. Nor does Mr. Wolmar neglect the pop-culture angle: Agatha Christie fans will be sorry to learn that history records no instance of a real-life murder on the Orient Express."
"Dallas Morning News""It's not clear who first thought of putting carts and carriages o

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 10615 KB
  • Print Length: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Books (1 Dec. 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00317INSK
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #145,911 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Christian Wolmar is a writer and broadcaster, principally on transport matters. He writes regularly for a wide variety of publications including the Independent, Evening Standard and Rail magazine, and appears frequently on TV and radio as a commentator. His previous books include the widely-acclaimed The Subterranean Railway, a history of the London underground and Fire and Steam, a history of how the railways transformed Britain.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
52 of 53 people found the following review helpful
By Dr. R. Brandon TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
As one might expect from Christian Wolmar this is a very good book packed with fascinating detail. Wolmar charts the growth of railways in all parts of the world. The pioneering position of Britain and the dominant role that we played in terms of providing engineering expertise and, perhaps more surprisingly, private finance is well related. (Of course, this dominant position was subsequently lost to America and then France and Japan.) Chapters are dedicated to different aspects of railway growth; the building of European lines and the mighty projects of crossing America, Canada and the other continents. Further sections deal with the different motivations for railway investment; private and government sponsored, the effect of railway expansion upon society and trade, the use of railways in wartime, and finally, the decline of railways and subsequent recent resurgence with investment in high-speed lines. Wolmar is at his best when drawing together the general reasons for railway investment and the general effects upon people and their way of life. Some of the early chapters on the growth of the railway system can be rather overwhelming with a dazzling array of data, but perhaps this is the nature of the beast and a minor quibble. As with Wolmar's earlier, 'Fire and Steam' this is a good history book and is not an 'anorak' book or coffee-table picture book. This excellent read will undoubtedly be of interest to general readers and railway enthusiasts alike.
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35 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wolmar goes global 27 Oct. 2009
By Jensun
Format:Hardcover
Christian Wolmar must be one of the most knowledgeable authors on railways writing today, and with this volume he has excelled himself. Anyone who enjoyed "Fire & Steam" - Wolmar's lively history of the railways in Britain - will be delighted that he has finally gone global, looking at how railways affected (and continue to impact) just about every country where they were built in the world.

The book is extremely readable and amazingly comprehensive - in spite of the author's apology that it isn't. Of course there are omissions (my own favourite line to Sóller in Mallorca isn't mentioned, for example). But it's a must for every railway buff and should also enthuse anyone interested in the industrial and social history of the last 150 years.

With signs of a potential renaissance for this mode of transport, Christian Wolmar should have plenty to write about in the future.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Railway History 2 Sept. 2011
Format:Paperback
After producing excellent railway history books of Britain's railway, Christian Wolmer has extended its field to the world. "Blood, iron, and Gold" conveys the readers the background stories of the pioneers in the world who developed the railways that would span Eurasia, Asian, American, African, and Oceanian contents and link cities and stretch the remote corners, with mixtures of social and technical history and amusing anecdotes.

It is impossible to disregard of the pioneers, lower class engineers and employees who worked very hard to build up railway, stations, and signals with primitive equipment, harsh environment, and given meague amount of pay.

With superb fast-finding abilities, Christian Wolmer also demonstrates how culture and civilization have been enriched and destroyed in the course of the railway expansion and discovers how the railway played a vital role e.g. transporting materials and personnels in civil conflict, as well as two world wars.

This is a highly readable and gripping history book that tells the readers how the railway have shaped the modern world.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid overview that avoids the technical detail 16 Oct. 2010
Format:Hardcover
Christian Wolmar tackles his chosen subject without delving into the "rivet-counting" detail that often characterises the genre. As with his previous books, he consciously tries to provide a more rounded overview of the topic, considering the social, financial, political and economic drivers and effects of railway development. With such a potentially huge subject, he opts to present this through a number of case studies, and one of the advantages of doing this is that one can learn of the more obscure topics, such as the railways in New Zealand or the trans-Andean railways. Almost inevitably, however, this means that there is some overlap with some of his previous books, and I was often left wanting to know more (he does, thankfully, provide a brief commentary on where one might go to fulfil this desire).

The most dominant theme in the book is that of the great transcontinental lines, from those in North America to the most recently completed line (the Ghan, running north to south across Australia), and he contrasts the motivations and implications of building these lines very well indeed. Although there are relatively few maps, this book is less about exactly where the railways went, than about why and how they were built, and what effects they had on the continents, and so I never felt truly lost. With a writing style that is easy, very little effort is needed to keep reading.

I would recommend this book to anyone with more than a passing interest in the railways, particularly if they have been avoiding those deeply technical volumes that often crowd the transport sections of bookshops.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good in parts! 10 Nov. 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The book was an excellent read, full of information and interest BUT reading it on Kindle had the same problem as discussed before, the almost impossibility of reading the most interesting FOOTNOTES as one progresses!
They are all at the back and to get there AND BACK is most difficult and really spoils the read.
If they were set at the end of each chapter, it would at least diminish the difficulty of access.
Similarly, putting all the photos at the back, means one doesn't really know they exist until one finishes the whole book.
So 5 stars for the writer but only 2 for the publisher!
IAN
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
excellent
Published 21 days ago by mrs f h lloyd
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Superb world history of railways, Wolmar is a master of storytelling
Published 4 months ago by RMS
4.0 out of 5 stars Very en-gauge-ing
You don’t have to like railways or engineering to enjoy this book. It is an exceedingly well written history of the development of the modern world seen through the expansion of... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Jules
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
this was a gift to a rail enthusiast - went down very well!!
Published 6 months ago by dog walker
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Interesting reading. Learned a lot from it.
Published 6 months ago by Andy
4.0 out of 5 stars Another Good Railway History
Christian Wolmar scores again with a very readable account of how the railways changed the world. Inevitably much of the material is repeated from his earlier books on Britain... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Steve_Morris
5.0 out of 5 stars A good read
I enjoyed Mr Wolmar's volume a great deal. It was very interesting to a get history of the railways from a worldwide point of view.
Published 11 months ago by Radiosnail
5.0 out of 5 stars Trains Trains Trains
If you enjoy reading about trains or major engineering projects you cannot go wrong with this book.
Wolmar writes in an easy to understand style without going into the... Read more
Published 17 months ago by Simon
5.0 out of 5 stars Nice history
Christian Wolmar's book is as much a social and political history of the railways as it is the story - and a very readable one - of how they were built. Read more
Published on 14 May 2011 by Alan Lenton
5.0 out of 5 stars A rattling good read
Wolmar writes entertainingly and enthusiastically - the content of the book is summed up in its title. It certainly isn't only for railway buffs. Read more
Published on 17 Dec. 2010 by Jago
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