by Robert K on December 2, 2010This 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!
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