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52 of 53 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Very Good General History of the Railways of the World
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...
Published on 28 Oct 2009 by Dr. R. Brandon

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars kindle version has no maps!
It is a great pity that the maps were not included in the Kindle Version. A bad omission.
Published on 27 Oct 2010 by C. J. West


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4.0 out of 5 stars Very good in parts!, 10 Nov 2013
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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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5.0 out of 5 stars Nice history, 14 May 2011
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This review is from: Blood, Iron and Gold: How the Railways Transformed the World (Paperback)
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. The eclipse of the railways by motor cars in the second half of the twentieth century has obscured the extent to which railways changed the world.

In some parts of the world, Europe, for instance, they linked the cities and towns and drove trade to previously unheard of heights. In other parts of the world, and the USA is only the most obvious example, they were instrumental in creating a unified nation. In addition, railways have their own dark side. The two World Wars would have been unthinkable without the railway's ability to move men and munitions rapidly between battlefronts.

The book is a fascinating read peppered with heroes, villains and interesting stories about the rise and fall of the railways. You don't have to be a trainspotting geek to enjoy this book, just an interest in how the past - and present - were shaped by one particular piece of technology at a particular time. All in all, a thundering good read by an author with a real passion for his subject!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Killed off very quickly, 4 Oct 2010
This review is from: Blood, Iron and Gold: How the Railways Transformed the World (Paperback)
Like most of his books, concentrates on early history then covers more recent times at a gallopBlood, Iron and Gold: How the Railways Transformed the World
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Enthralling Read, 18 Jan 2010
Blood Iron and Gold really sums up this book. Christian gives a vivid account of the how many lives were lost building the railways we know today and how the ironway spread across continents and enhanced the fortunes of many rather dubious operators.

However, despite their rather dubious origins and the numerous obstacles to their construction and spread, including political, economic and physical, all of which he gives a good account, Christian then goes on to show shows how the railways really did transform the world and spread the industrial urban lifestyle across the world.

In particular I like his final vision of the renascence of the railways, particularly high-speed lines, urban trams and public transport in general to enable us to travel around without being dependant on the motorcar. Unfortunately, whilst other countries like Germany are embracing this concept we seem remarkably reluctant to follow suit in the UK.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wolmar Does It, Again, 12 Dec 2009
By 
Mr. B. S. Gambrill "drill fan" (London, England) - See all my reviews
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Thinking of planning and building a new railway line? This is the book for you; it is a book of case studies and lessons rather than a text book as there is no prescribed way to plan, design, finance, build and operate a new railway.
Christian Wolmar's latest offering, Blood, Iron and Gold is an absorbing story of the railway as an instrument for nation and empire building. It complements his previous book dealing with the equally quirky nature of the railway network development of Britain, Fire & Steam. In this new book Wolmar provides the worldwide examples that demonstrate the rightness of taking into account `promoters' bias'. This phenomena always underestimates the likely costs and risks and overemphasises the commercial and economic influence of new railway infrastructure. From the book, the instances where one or more of these factors has been overlooked and where the railway still succeeds are amazing. The book provides plentiful examples for potential promoters and funders of new lines across the world that will allow them to avoid making the same mistakes again.
The Wolmar style (Bill Bryson of railway books) delivers the stories and messages clearly and continent by continent. The narrative is alive with wonderful examples of bravery, daring and unbelievable self delusion. A good read and very readable.
Wolmar's enthusiasm for railways and his columnist's scepticism makes this book the best of his railway-centred books.
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11 of 17 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not good, 29 Dec 2009
I liked Fire and Steam and loved The Subterranean Railway but this is a poor book. It's full of sweeping generalisations and statements with no real evidence to back them up. I could live with that but what's disappointing is that the book is not fun to read: large parts of it are just dry, abbreviated histories of how x line or y line were built and it's repetitive (I lost count of the times he said that the effect of the railway could not be overestimated). But my greatest disappointment lies in the fact that it lacks any of the insight that made his other books such a joy to read - it seems that what he has done is cobbled together bits of other railway books (including their anecdotes) into a boring blancmange. When you hear him on the radio or read his articles you get the impression that this is a man with knowledge and passion about the railways - you won't think that if you read this book.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read, 10 Feb 2010
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Blood, Iron and Gold is quite simply a great read. It gives a really incisive insight into railways, their development and their social imput.
It is, fortunately from my point of view, not a technical book but shows in a most fascinating way just how huge an impact the railways have had not just on people's lives but on whole nations.

Naturally, with such a vast subject, one only gets a taster of some of the world's great railways and railway journeys and it has certainly whetted my appetite for finding out more about some of those railways.

Christian Wolmar has a very readable style of writing and I like the way he offers personal opinions on the merits of certain things and even throws in the odd joke.

For anyone interested in the non-technical side of railways and social history, the is just the book to read.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not an ANORAKt, 23 Sep 2010
By 
Keith A. Chittenden (Stroud UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Blood, Iron and Gold: How the Railways Transformed the World (Paperback)
A most comprehensive treatment of a very complex subject, spoilt only (for me) by an inaccurate reference, and a surprising bias by one of White Russian origin against Tsarist railway achievements.
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Blood, Iron and Gold: How the Railways Transformed the World
Blood, Iron and Gold: How the Railways Transformed the World by Christian Wolmar (Paperback - 1 Aug 2010)
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