Most helpful critical review
6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
What's Out The Window?
on October 20, 2007
I wanted to use this book as a guide for planning my own cross-country trip on the Zephyr. It's a wonderful book if you want to know the history of railroad depots and the ups-and-downs of passenger train history.
But if waiting to see what's outside the the train windows, the book is a big disappointment. 150 pages into the book, Mr. Kisor has barely looked out the window. His book is a catalogue of all the minutia that occurs during his trip, from his first conversations with the chef and the steward all the way to the ramblings of drunken passengers. Mr. Kisor seems extremely people-oriented, which I am not criticising; I just would have liked more descriptions of the passing countryside to get a sense of Americana seen from passenger trains.
Kisor also seems to focus too much on unpleasant, uncelebrated side of train travel. "The second coach stank of stale farts, bodily crevices and morning breath..." His reporter's sense of detail is sometimes too keen; he reports on everything around him with impeccable accuracy, whether pleasant or unpleasant. While everyone has experienced cantankerous passengers and garrulous bores, we don't really want them jumping from the pages of a book to spoil our ride. There were sections of this book that made me think twice about scheduling a cross-country trip. If Kisor's purpose was to celebrate the passenger railroads and encourage people to ride them, he might consider trading more uplifting paragraphs for these truthful, but depressing, episodes.
All in all, it is still a good read if you want well researched train history mingled with a hefty set of personal anecdotes. But please, Mr. Kisor, the next time you ride the Zephyr, look out the window!