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on 16 November 2014
This is another compelling book from Christian Wolmar. I am not a railway buff, but his works always cover so much more than the railway around which they are based. This one covers the building of the trans-Siberian railway (or, more accurately, railways) and the whole political, social and economic world that surrounded it. Given that this covers the final years or tsarist Russia, the First World War, the revolution, and then the Soviet union, it is a wide ranging work. The author manages to stick to the theme, whilst covering all the outside influences that affected it. It is very readable, and really does make you think about how one structure can have such far-reaching effects. Whether I agreed totally with all the authors conclusions and connections I'm not sure, but the point is he made me think about them. That is why I read history books in the first place!
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on 3 August 2017
A must for trans-sib travellers. Your whole experience will be enlarged by knowing much more about the blood sweat and tears linked to building the longest and greatest railway in the world.
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on 30 August 2017
A fascinating read!
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on 19 December 2013
The book describes the reasons for the railway's construction and the wranglings that preceded the building of this immense project, the building of the railway, its effects on geo-politics particularly the war with Japan and later developments. He records the sufferings and deaths of many thousands of untold exiles and prisoners used as forced labour and the later recruitment of volunteers to complete the BAM railway to the north, suggesting convincingly that these projects led to 1917 revolution that overthrew the Tsarist regime and to the eventual collapse of the Communist system respectively. That he manages to condense such a huge subject into a modestly-sized book that is both authoritative, readable, entertaining and thought-provoking is quite remarkable.Most enjoyable.
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on 5 February 2014
Christian Wolmar’s books are always a pleasure to read and To The Edge Of The World continues in the same vein.

I had never read a railway book in my life until I heard an excellent radio review of Fire & Steam, Wolmar’s wonderful account of Britain’s railways and how they changed the country forever. Since then I have read and enjoyed The Subterranean Railway (about the London Underground), Blood, Iron & Gold (how the railways changed the world) The Great Railroad Revolution (how the railways changed America) and now this superb new book on the Trans-Siberian Railway.

Whereas there is sufficient detail and analysis in all Wolmar’s books to please railway enthusiasts (or ‘trainspotters’ if you prefer) my interest lies more in the sphere of general history. To The Edge Of The World was therefore particularly pertinent as one of my special subjects at university was the Russian Revolution, so it was fascinating to address this topic from a different angle. Wolmar’s personal connection with the Russian Civil War through his father, an émigré who had briefly fought on the side of the Whites until being appalled by the barbarity of his comrades-in-arms, was especially poignant.

The writer is a master at adding colour to not only the events but the personalities who shaped railway history. After completing one of his books I always feel enriched with a wider knowledge of the subject, and the geography of the locations in question.

Wolmar writes with boldness, clarity and authority, while his dry sense of humour complements his style perfectly. I thoroughly recommend this book and as someone who has already visited European Russia it has given me the ambition to venture further, all the way to Vladivostok in fact.
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on 20 December 2013
This was an excellent read and I thoroughly enjoyed it; up to the usual standard of the author's previous books that I've read. As well as being a fascinating history of the Trans-Siberian Railway from construction to the present day I also found that it provided a real insight to the wider period of Russian history covered. The maps included were a great help in identifying the various locations mentioned and provided a useful reference.

If I ever get the opportunity to travel on Trans-Siberian in the future then I would definitely bring a copy along for the ride.
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on 18 May 2015
I thought it was better than The Great Railway Revolution: The Epic Story of the American Railroad (see elsewhere on my Profile page) but then he is half-Russian!
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on 20 January 2014
His writing was excellent and he made everything very clear. It was a welcome learning experience politically as well as geographically and the author made the progression of Russian recent history make a lot of sense. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and wish I had learned more about Russia many years ago. The involvement of England in the grab for territory was very illuminating and the first world war was an utter disgrace visited upon populations of young men by devious politicians and corrupt aristocracy.
Breathtaking book that flew along. Thoroughly recommended.
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on 2 February 2014
Very moving story,how the railway was built in remote areas,a superb new history of the world's railways.writer never forgets the human suffering
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on 15 January 2014
Extremely readable story, much more fast paced than the train itself, and written by the railway expert. Reveals the importance of the Trans Siberian in the history of the west and reminds us what a great engineering feat it is. Gives an insight into the mindset of Soviet rulers in contemporary times too.
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