Learn more Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Learn More Shop now Shop now Learn more Shop Fire Shop Kindle Amazon Music Unlimited 4 months for £0.99 Shop now Fitbit
Customer Review

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A passionate history of Britain's railways, 7 April 2010
By 
This review is from: Fire & Steam: A New History of the Railways in Britain (Hardcover)
Few inventions did more to change life in Britain than the railways. Since the establishment of the first steam-powered lines in the early 19th century, they demolished locality, lowered the cost of goods, and made cheap travel a reality for millions of Britons. Yet as Christian Wolmar shows, this transformation was hardly a smooth one, shaped first by numerous growing pains and then the vagaries of government policy. This history, and its role in shaping Britain's railway system today, is the subject of his book, which describes both how the railways changed Britain and how Britons, in turn changed the railways.

Wolmar's scope is a broad one, ranging back to the early gravity- and horse-drawn routes of the 17th century. Yet it is not until steam engines are introduced that the railways emerge as a prominent mode of transportation. While initially envisioned primarily as a means of moving freight, Wolmar notes that railways soon found transporting passengers to be their most lucrative source of revenue. Soon railways sprang up throughout Britain, and by the start of the twentieth century lines reached nearly every corner of the island. Yet dominance bred complacency, and the railways were slow to respond to the challenge posed by the emergence of road haulage in the early twentieth century. Hobbled by under-investment during the two world wars and handicapped by successive (and sometimes conflicting) government mandates, Britain's railway network was in decline by the second half of the twentieth century. Yet for all of these problems Wolmar is optimistic about the future of railways, arguing that despite continued dithering over investment in its infrastructure, technological innovation promises to deliver improvements in performance that can ensure the survival of railways for another century.

A journalist and self-styled `transport commentator', Wolmar's passion for his subject shines through on every page. He writes in a light and readable style that conveys well his extensive knowledge of Britain's railways without burdening his readers with minutiae. This combination makes his book a superb starting point for anyone seeking to learn more about Britain's railways and the country's long, oftentimes troubled, yet always fascinating relationship with them.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

[Add comment]
Post a comment
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Amazon will display this name with all your submissions, including reviews and discussion posts. (Learn more)
Name:
Badge:
This badge will be assigned to you and will appear along with your name.
There was an error. Please try again.
Please see the full guidelines here.

Official Comment

As a representative of this product you can post one Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
The following name and badge will be shown with this comment:
 (edit name)
After clicking on the Post button you will be asked to create your public name, which will be shown with all your contributions.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.  Learn more
Otherwise, you can still post a regular comment on this review.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
 
System timed out

We were unable to verify whether you represent the product. Please try again later, or retry now. Otherwise you can post a regular comment.

Since you previously posted an Official Comment, this comment will appear in the comment section below. You also have the option to edit your Official Comment.   Learn more
The maximum number of Official Comments have been posted. This comment will appear in the comment section below.   Learn more
Prompts for sign-in
  [Cancel]

Comments

Track comments by e-mail

Sort: Oldest first | Newest first
Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 9 May 2012, 12:56:38 BST
If I had written this review, I should have felt constrained to give five stars. What happened to your fifth star?

In reply to an earlier post on 9 May 2012, 14:27:57 BST
MarkK says:
I'm not a fan of grade inflation; generally I save the fifth star for books that are truly outstanding and insightful. As good as it is, I just didn't think Wolmar's book quite warranted that -- hence the four stars.

Posted on 8 Jan 2014, 20:12:43 GMT
Last edited by the author on 8 Jan 2014, 20:12:58 GMT
J. Hill says:
Good for you Mark, so easy to give five stars to everything you like. 'Grade inflation' is something I'm guilty of and I must try harder not to do it.
‹ Previous 1 Next ›

Review Details

Item

Reviewer

MarkK
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   

Location: Phoenix, AZ, USA

Top Reviewer Ranking: 16,069