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Empire Express: Building the First Transcontinental Railroad Paperback – September 1, 2000
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David Haward Bain's superb narrative of westward rail history, weighing in at 800 pages, ends not with this great achievement but with the political and financial scandal that would almost overshadow it. Along the way Bain looks closely at the entrepreneurial men who foresaw the possibilities of a vast nation joined by a steel ribbon--most memorably the hit-and-miss businessman Asa Whitney, who proposed to Congress an ingenious scheme to fund the building of the railroad through commercializing the right of way. Some of the men who came after Whitney, such as Mark Hopkins, Collis Huntington, and Leland Stanford, amassed great fortunes in realizing this dream. Others died penniless and nearly forgotten in the wake of political maneuverings and bad deals. Bain's vigorous, well-written narrative does much to restore those overlooked actors to history. --Gregory McNamee --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
The Union Pacific-Central Pacific venture was one of the truly pivotal moments in American history, and Mr. Bain does indeed present it as such. It is more than obvious in reading "Empire Express" that there was a great deal of time involved in research. It is also evident that there was easily enough information/facts to fill multiple volumes if Mr. Bain had desired to do so.
The primary strength of this book is its spike-by-spike account and the vast amount of information provided. Not only does Mr. Bain present the railroad itself, he brings us the major players who envisioned this project, built the line, and ensured that it would be built without interference. He also weaves in the surrounding history (i.e. the Civil War) and politics of the era to highlight everything that helped or hindered the railroad.
Another of the strong points in this book is that Mr. Bain lets the information and the historical figures do the "talking". I give kudos to Mr. Bain, because he avoided skewing the account through his personal opinion, which seems to be the unfortunate trend in some historical circles today.
There were two things that kept me from giving this a 5-star rating. First, it was a very slow read. Granted, most historical works are; however, this seemed to proceed more tediously than most. Second, there were several points in which Mr. Bain unloaded so much information on the reader that it was literally disorienting.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
At 700 plus pages it's not going to be a quick read. Yet if I'd wanted a quick read I'd have bought a shorter book, but would have then missed out on the reams of in-depth research... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Limey Smokejumper
Writing this review is not totally necessary as the existing 69 reviews pretty much tell you what to expect. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Bruce
The book as purchased as a gift for a train enthusiast who was into AMC's "Hell on Wheels" series---the building of the first transcontinental railroad. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Bgnortsmra
In trying to explain the United States to a guest from overseas, I gave him a copy of this book and the Ken Burns "Civil War" series. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Norman Crum