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4.3 out of 5 stars
57
4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 30 December 2013
Wolmar is one of those historians who can take a big complex subject and summarize it well and make an entertaining read. ( I'd put Max Hastings and Frank Dikotter in the same category).
US railroads were people, politics and technology - and that's Wolmar's bias, and it makes the book excellent on the social history.
He says himself that technology is only lightly covered, ( it's a big book anyway), like gauges, braking, electrification, where they caused significant shifts. ( I am also interested in railway technology - but that's for another book ! )

PS. My title is from a traditional American song - Boomer's Story. So much about railroads in American songs.
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on 13 October 2013
This is a comprehensive, long but not languid history of the railways in America: the triumphs of nineteenth-century capital and the nervous system that spread along the first phase of the population of America.
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on 15 June 2013
I had expected this book to have more to do with the nuts and bolts of building the railways but found instead that it had more to do with the finances.
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on 13 December 2013
Great history and made sense of all that stuff about robber barons. As well as debunking a lot of things you vaguely believed.
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on 3 October 2013
A very comprehensive and well written book. Full of facts relating to several of the early lines. Very interesting indeed.
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on 24 April 2013
Much of the book is very interesting as far as the history and development of the railways is concerned BUT in places there is too much detail and some duplication of facts. I found it necessary to skim read certain sections because it started to get 'bogged down in the detail'. Having said that it is actually a fascinating read-'the rise and fall of American rail' with political influence and fraud on a massive scale.
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on 21 November 2013
A great way to understand America form 1800 on, unraveled the mystery of the civil war and put American railways into context- including the emergence of Amtrac. Told like a story but with al the technical and financial aspects put across in an easy to understand way. Great.
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on 19 May 2013
A very well written railway history. I expected it to be fairly heavy going but it was thoroughly enjoyable
and full of fascinating and unexpected facts. if you are even the smallest bit interested in railway history
you will enjoy this book.
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on 12 September 2013
If you want an in site into how the States evolved, look no further. From big business and its influence on trade, government and misuse of power, it is all here. Still remember the old steam trains chugging through the small town where I was born
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on 15 May 2013
Like all boys the railway has a fascination for me. This book gave a pretty good history of the building of the vast rail network in the USA. It brought us up to date with the state of the railways today and how Amtrak fits into the story.
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