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Building a transcontinental railroad, writes the prolific historian Stephen Ambrose, was second only to the abolition of slavery on Lincoln's presidential agenda. Through an ambitious program of land grants and low-interest government loans, he encouraged entrepreneurs such as California's "Big Four"--Charles Crocker, Collis Huntington, Mark Hopkins, and Leland Stanford--to take on the task of stringing steel rails from ocean to ocean. The real work of doing so, of course, was on the shoulders of immigrant men and women, mostly Chinese and Irish. These often-overlooked actors and what a contemporary called their "dreadful vitality" figure prominently in Ambrose's narrative, alongside the great financiers and surveyors who populate the standard textbooks.
In the end, Ambrose writes, Lincoln's dream transformed the nation, marking "the first great triumph over time and space" and inaugurating what has come to be known as the American Century. David Haward Bain's Empire Express, which covers the same ground, is more substantial, but Ambrose provides an eminently readable study of a complex episode in American history. --Gregory McNamee --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Bought this book after getting hooked on AMC's Hell on Wheels series. The book provides a great historical look at the UP and CP construction and challenges.Published 15 days ago by Amazon Customer
Ambrose's topic is interesting, and he certainly brings passion to the subject, but certain passages shade into sentimentality and hyperbole. Read morePublished 1 month ago by James Robert Irving
Long and boring... but historically very interesting. But did I mention, long and boring?Published 1 month ago by Jandy
Liked it a lot but spent way too much time on complicated financing of the railroad. I would have found it much more interesting if they had explained tools and methods in more... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Robert E Hetz
I've never read anything by Stephen Ambrose until now, but with his reputation was eager to read this account of building the transcontinental railroad. Read morePublished 2 months ago by J. Link