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Customer Review

on 12 December 2009
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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