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Railroads and the American People (Railroads Past and Present) Hardcover – October 17, 2012


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Railroads and the American People (Railroads Past and Present) + American Railroads (The Chicago History of American Civilization) + Harriman vs. Hill: Wall Street’s Great Railroad War
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Is it necessary to comment on an established author such as Roger Grant. Heavens, he is a fine scholar and writes better than Hemingway!" ―John White, author of The American Railroad Passenger Car



"Read this book slowly, allowing the wealth of detail―which is the book’s great strength―time to sink in. You will find yourself thinking about certain details after hours, each reader resonating with some different aspect of the map Grant creates. Re-reading, some other aspect will surface.... Grant’s book leaves you wishing for more." ―Indiana Magazine of History



"Railroad historian Grant... has written an engaging book of train stories, detailing their social influence from 1830 to 1930.... Highly recommended.
" ―Choice



"With its wealth of vignettes and more than 100 black-and-white illustrations, Railroads and the American People does a fine job of humanizing the iron horse." ―Wall Street Journal



"Grant very successfully identifies the countless ways that railroads have touched the lives of ordinary Americans and rail enthusiast communities such as ours as well." ―Michigan Railfan



"With plenty of detail, Grant brings a bygone era back to life, addressing everything from social and commercial appeal, racial and gender issues, safety concerns, and leaps in technology. But Grant never loses sight of the big picture and the essential role the railroads played in American life. He writes with authority and clarity in a work that can appeal to both casual and hardcore enthusiasts." ―Publishers Weekly (starred review)



"Consisting of hundreds of vignettes containing a wealth of detailed descriptions and remembrances, Grant’s work is highly recommended to train buffs and others in love with early railroading." ―LIBRARY JOURNAL

About the Author

H. Roger Grant is Kathryn and Calhoun Lemon Professor of History at Clemson University. He is author of 25 books, including Visionary Railroader (IUP, 2008) and (with Don L. Hofsommer) Iowa’s Railroads (IUP, 2009).

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Product Details

  • Series: Railroads Past and Present
  • Hardcover: 328 pages
  • Publisher: Indiana University Press (October 17, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0253006333
  • ISBN-13: 978-0253006332
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 1.1 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #433,044 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By D_shrink VINE VOICE on October 24, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
For those of us old enough to remember train travel or those having worked on or with railroads for part of their life as have I [working as a gandy-dancer or laborer repairing track while attending college in the 1960s] this brings back memories of railroading both good and bad. Fixing rails in 100 degree heat wasn't fun, but travel on trains was still a big adventure in the 1950s. For those not of such an age, this is a great book to learn all about railroading and how it changed the history of our country. The author divides the book into four main sections - trains and train travel, train stations, railroads and how they affected community life, and the legacy that railroading has left us today.

The book is printed on a high quality glossy paper, which is important as there are well over 100 B/W plates to help visualize the prose. As for the prose itself, the author speaks in a friendly rather than pedagogical voice, making it easy and fun to read. The book is full of fact, but the history is told as by someone you know simply relating a story to you.

The primary years covered are 1830 to 1930, but the author does continue on with his history to the present.

An interesting fact that I found is that the maximum track mileage of 254,251 miles was achieved way back in 1916 and has progressively gotten smaller due to planes and primarily trucks able to use the interstate highway system to haul freight. The author also discusses Railroad Post Offices and the Railway Express Agency, both of which primarily disappeared by the end of the 1960s.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mark Carolla on December 17, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
H. Roger Grant is the Head of the History Department at Clemson University in South Carolina and has written or co-authored at least histories of the Wabash "Follow the Flag": A History of the Wabash Railroad Company (Railroads in America), the Erie-Lackawanna Erie Lackawanna: The Death of an American Railroad, 1938-1992 and the Chicago and North Western railroads and a total of 28 rail history books. Professor Grant is the President of the Lexington Transportation History Group, a society mainly of transportation historians and leaders, and along with Lexington Group Treasurer and Nwsletter Editor Professor Don Hofshommer of St. Cloud State University in St.Cloud, MN, (whom he often collaborates with) is one of the foremost railroad historians in the United States. This book, which takes a largely sociological approach is not dull economic and financial history, but a very readable description of the role railroads played and play in American society. It describes locomotives, munincipal rivalries, industries, passenger travel, stations, heroes, villains and the narrative of American transportation in an enjoyable and informative broad brush approach.
Having been trained as a historian my only gripe with Professor Grant's scholarship is when he deviates from railroading and describes the shameful internment of Japanese-Americans as "America's Gulag" in describing the role US railroads played in World War II.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Robert Zamen on March 28, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A very interesting and readable approach to this subject.

As a very particular reader who dislikes errors in grammar and spelling...I was dismayed at the number of typos and errors in the text. It did not materially affect the subject matter, however, it showed a lack of appropriate editing. For a scholarly publication, I would have not expected the number of errors.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By JLS on January 11, 2013
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Great read. Roger Grant knows how to make history interesting. If you are a railroad enthusiast this belongs on your bookshelf.
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Judging by the cover and glossy paper, this could be the pinnacle of rail texts. Partway through, while bogged in a passage that mixed events in non-consecutive fashion, I reviewed Grant's prologue: to examine the Trains, Stations, Communities and Legacy of railroads. He is most informative when comparing the variety of solutions used to build these steel arteries throughout the U.S.
Trains were the first transportation alternative to horses and wagons, but there were multiple brands and the machinery always evolving. Photos are well-captioned and identify the train's name, location or year. Cars appeared first as drafty, jolting wagons- wooden seats exposed to wind-driven cinders. Maximum speeds were low- accidents occurring when the crew dared to speed up. Stops for fuel and water extended the agony.
Stations were adapted to the traffic, local building materials; eventually following standardized plans published by each carrier. Sometimes stone structures or rude board-and-batten structures that received shipments, mail, provided space for stationmaster/ticket sales, a telegrapher, and passenger waiting area. These eventually morphed into bus and airport terminals- which stole passenger business. Trucks assumed much freight hauling.
Communities were not all metropolises surrounding a 'Grand' Station, but stations did attract hotels, diners, businesses of all sorts. During the latter part of the 1800s, many towns were built in the newly opened western territories. Settlers, even immigrants, would unload possessions and animals from rude cars and go claim homesteads. If fortunate, they prospered. If not, they moved on.
During the massive troop movements during WW II, North Platte, Nebraska was a busy stop.
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Railroads and the American People (Railroads Past and Present)
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