I feel somewhat hesitant in disagreeing with others who have reviewed and rated this book very highly. Reading the product description I had envisioned something rather different from the book that dropped through my letter box.
I have a long standing interest in all things Victorian and particularly in the railway and have read extensively on the subject. Jack Simmons has been relentless in pursuit of detail, but in my humble opinion often a particular subject can seem completely divorced from its predecessors. This leaves one feeling that this is more a collection of (albeit very interesting) disjointed facts that have been thrown together because they have a common thread (the railway) running through them rather than being a complete work in its own right.
I absolutely agree with other reviewers it contains much fascinating detail but this is spoiled by presentation, but a worthwhile purchase for all that. I award the book three stars only, mainly for effort and some absolute gems of information I have gleaned rather than the enjoyment of reading the book which in the end I was glad to put down.
A scholarly account of many aspects of the railways from 1830 to 1914. Jack Simmons obviously has done his research well, the references need 25 pages of notes.
He is critical of the railways and sets his thoughts in the context of social and literary themes and where he thinks the railways were less than perfect he says so. Often we think poor public relations or bad time-keeping is a modern phenomenon - it was probably worse in the 19th century!
Some interesting arguments and generally quite readable - although some quibbles, howbeit minor. He sees little of railways in literature yet despite a section on Charles Dickens does not mention his short story "The Signalman"; nor the "Railway Children" which was published in 1906.