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Amtrak: An American Story Paperback – June 7, 2011

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Amtrak: An American Story + Amtrak Across America: An Illustrated History + Riding Amtrak: The Rise and Fall of America on Rails
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

The Staff of Amtrak is based in Washington, D.C.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 and up
  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Kalmbach Books (June 7, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0871164442
  • ISBN-13: 978-0871164445
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 8.6 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #745,720 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Kris on June 18, 2011
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This is a great picture book with rare photographs. Like it or not, it is published by Amtrak folks, but the pictures don't lie. This is a worthwhile, historical record of the same caliber of the Making of the Washington DC Metro book. It's has several photographs of rare scenes, including one of the infamous Union Station Washington DC Visitors' Center, something that has curiously few photographs to see.

If you're a fan of passenger trains and understand the significance of the forty-year anniversary of a public/private corporation that was designed to fail, you need this book.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Frederick S. Goethel VINE VOICE on June 28, 2011
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If you are even a little younger than I am (mid 50s), you will have a hard time remembering the creation of Amtrak. I was a junior in high school when it was created and I barely remember this happening, despite being a rail fan at a young age. That alone makes this a valuable book, as there are millions of people who fail to understand just how amazing it is that Amtrak is still alive and kicking.

The book consists of three basic parts interwoven together. Every 3 or 4 pages there is a page or 2 that is dedicated to the story of an Amtrak employee. Most all are people who have either been at the company since the beginning or have had amazing stories while at the company, all of which makes for fascinating reading. The space in between the stories is dedicated to well captioned photos of the railroad. The photographs cover just about the entire Amtrak operation and include copies of posters, brochures and advertising material that has long gone out of use. Finally, there is a timeline that runs along the top of the pages which shows major milestones in Amtrak history, along with major events in world history that help put the time frame into perspective.

The last 10% of the book is dedicated to a day in the life sort of photograph arrangement. They asked employees on one single day to photograph whatever they felt was worthy and send it in to the corporate offices. The result is a look at the railroad from across the span of a day and a country. Although these are "amateur" photographs, most are extremely well done and it is obvious that the employees put much thought into what they thought was important to portray.

Although this is not a "detailed" history, it makes for fine reading and would be a wonderful addition to a train buffs library. It is also a look at a piece of American history and should be of interest to those with an interest in history.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By David W. Richter on September 7, 2011
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The book authored by Amtrak for its 40th anniversary is great. The pictures are well selected and do a good job representing each decade of Amtrak's existence. The quality of the photos is excellent, as is the book itself. The layout and design are also superb. And best of all, the price is well under $20. Where else can anyone get a full-color high quality book for that price today? If you like trains, especially passenger trains, this is well worth the ticket price.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By R. Stephen Franks on February 25, 2014
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As a long time Microsoft Train Simmer, I was hot to get some books about the Amtrak passenger service. It is not what I was looking for (I need lots of photos of rolling stock and interiors please!), but the book is still an interesting read dedicated to many personal stories.
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AMTRAK An American Story, National Railroad Passenger Corporation, c. 2011. Reviewed by Peggy Lucero.

For anyone who has an interest in passenger railroads and how they have evolved in the United States this book will meet and likely exceed your requirements. Though only a 143-page work, it has drawn from men and women who have worked at AMTRAK and captures their personal experiences in engaging and insightful ways. This book has incorporated a wide range of historical pictures that compliment and reinforce the narrative.

Twenty-two individual voices give their stories of life at AMTRAK. These men and women's lives were shaped and changed by working on the railroad and the AMTRAK of today is a testament to their labor and dedication. And, Valerie and George Samuel found both a career and a life partner via AMTRAK.

In a nutshell, AMTRAK operates a nationwide rail network, serving more than 500 destinations in 46 states and 3 Canadian provinces on more than 21,200 miles of routes, with more than 20,000 employees. This is America's single high-speed intercity passenger rail provider, running trains at speeds in excess of 90 mph. These 20,000+ employees work around the clock every day of the year. There is a twenty-nine-page section, A Day in the Life of AMTRAK, that walks the reader through a 24-hour inside look at all that it takes to keep the trains running safely and on schedule.

Though AMTRAK earned about $2.51 billion in revenue it also incurred 3.74 billion in expenses (at the time of this book's publication). Therefore, public support is required. To quote a recent AMTRAK press release, "For FY 2014, Amtrak is seeking $373 million in federal operating support or about 17 percent less than it requested in FY 2013.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By John Wondolowski on August 13, 2012
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When I ordered this I was expecting it to be similar to another Amtrak book called All Aboard Amtrak: 1971-1991 in that it would cover the overall history of Amtrak, it's routes, rolling stock and the challenges the people of Amtrak had to face. I was both right and wrong in believing this. I was was right in the sense that this book did just that. However, I was wrong in that this book does not have much of a complete narrative of the history of Amtrak. Rather it has both current and former employees of Amtrak tell of their experiences with the company at certain stages of it's existence with brief passages at the beginning of each chapter describing the time period in question. Information on rolling stock, routes and stations are provided by a collection of photographs at the end of each chapter. However specifications for the different pieces of rolling stock was not provided aside from basic facts. The pictures included are extremely good as well and include old advertising, shots inside the trains and even includes shots of rare equipment such as the SPV-2000s, the LRC train leased from VIA, and the old Turbotrains and Turboliners.

It's not a bad read, particularly if your a fan of Amtrak and reading of the personal stories of some of Amtrak's employees. However if your looking for a book that contains a lot of detailed information for things such as equipment rosters and a system map then this may not be the one you want. Just think of what you want before ordering.
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