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The book is all I expected, and I am very satisfied.
Ralph J T
Jul 19, 2012
railroad history for summer reading
Ambrose has repeatedly demonstrated his chops as a distinguished historian, but this is openly
not distinguished history. It succeeds as what is is--a triumphalist patriotic tale written (at the behest
of his agent) to be a best seller. Written largely from secondary sources, it is half the length of Bain's masterwork.
Great fun if you're in a flag-waving mood at the beach.
Apr 8, 2011
Can't believe that the railroad was built considering the obstacles they had to overcome. Also, gives much credit to the labor of the Chinese even if late.
Jan 20, 2011
Gave this book to my husband for Christmas, he will read it while spending a few weeks in Florida, he's excited about reading it.
Dec 2, 2010
This is a great read! I expected it to be more like a reference book, but Stephen Ambrose has taken the events of the building of the Central and Union Pacific railroads and brought them to life. The involvement of Abraham Lincoln, Gen. William T. Sherman, and others is made clear; the fact that the the transcontinental rail endeavor began during the Civil War, and continued during the migration west is well depicted. Were it not for this time in our history the west would not have been settled quickly, and it is quite possible California and the Northwest could have been lost to foreign invaders.
I would recommend this book to anyone interested in American history, railroading, or the spirit of making a dream become reality. The best - and worst - of Americans is depicted. It also shows our current economic and political times are not that far removed from 150 years ago - disagreements about the need and how to pay for a national undertaking, greed and corruption, bravado, broken promises, as well as dedication, pride in work, dealing with hardships, and the many other things that make America the nation it is are very well illustrated in this excellent volume!
Publishers Weekly, 2000-10-02 On May 10, 1869, telegraphers sent the word done from Promontory Point, Utah, throughout the nation, signaling the completion of what Walt Whitman referred to as "the road between Europe and Asia." The transcontinental railroad, which connected the vast American territories, cut the trip from New York City to San Francisco from many months to seven days. Ambrose's (Undaunted Courage) epic account, diligently and powerfully read by DeMunn, details the incredible mobilization of manpower and financing that was "the very embodiment of system." He tells it all with verve: the financial finagling, the impulse to simplify by "exterminating" Native Americans, the backbreaking work and the fierce competition between railroad companies that fueled the effort. This gritty, momentous tale of the personalities that pressed across the wild American West with rail and tie celebrates the feat that brought the U.S. into the modern age. Simultaneous release with the S&S hardcover and trade paperback. (Forecasts, July 3). (Aug.)n Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Publishers Weekly, 2000-07-03 Eminent historian Ambrose notes that he once viewed the investors and businessmen who built the transcontinental railroad as robber barons who bilked the government and the public. But in his rough-and-tumble, triumphant saga?sure to appeal to the many readers of Ambrose's bestseller Undaunted Courage?he presents the continent-straddling railroad, yoking east and west at Promontory Point, Utah, in 1869, as a great democratic experiment, a triumph of capitalist organization, free labor, brains and determination that ushered in the American Century, galvanized trade and settlement, and made possible a national culture. To critics who charge that the railroad magnates were corrupt and grew obscenely rich and powerful through land grants and government bonds, Ambrose replies that the land grants never brought in enough money to pay the bills and, further, that the bonds were loans, fully paid back with huge interest payments. But this argument fails to convince, partly because Ambrose does a superlative job of re-creating the grim conditions in which the tracks were laid. The Central Pacific's workers were primarily Chinese, earning a dollar a day. Union Pacific workers were mostly Irish-American, young, unmarried ex-soldiers from both the Union and the Confederacy. Accidental deaths were commonplace, and the two companies, notwithstanding strikes, slowdowns and drunken vice, engaged in a frantic race, mandated by Congress, as the winner got the greater share of land and bonds. As a result of the haste, an enormous amount of shoddy construction had to be replaced. Native Americans, who wanted the iron rail out of their country, hopelessly waged guerrilla warfare against railroad builders who talked openly of exterminating them. Drawing on diaries, memoirs, letters, telegrams, newspaper accounts and other primary sources, Ambrose celebrates the railroad's unsung heroes?the men who actually did the backbreaking work. 32 pages of b&w photos. 6-city author tour. (Sept.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
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