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Showing 1-10 of 47 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 55 reviews
on June 25, 2011
The narrative builds pace like a locomotive that's lost its breaks and is careening downhill. It's a good, quick and satisfying read.

This is historical writing at its finest. Not only does it bring to life the questionable election of Rutherford B. Hays and post-Civil War militias, but also the Great Railroad Strike of 1877. It highlights an oft-forgotten part of American history. Never mind the romance of the train, if you've ever wondered why railroads were hated by many a hundred years ago, and, as a consequence why many other countries have more-developed rail systems than the United States, here's a good part of your answer.
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on July 2, 2011
This short history of the "great upheaval" of 1877 describes in some detail the spontaneous public uprising against the managers of America's largest railroad companies of the era, when they instituted system-wide pay cuts of 10% at a time when working-class Americans were barely eking out a living. This was a time, much like today, when the differences in compensation between those who worked for large, powerful corporations (in this case the railroads) and those who owned the companies was enormous. It was a time when many were out of work, and those that had jobs were barely surviving. Though the highly profitable railroad companies easily could have kept the pay level of their workers steady, they chose to further impoverish their workers by cutting pay another 10%. This short history effectively captures the flavor of the uprising, which was completely unorganized and spontaneous across the northeastern part of the country.
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on July 1, 2011
America's finest author of historical Fiction (The Great Maria, The Firedrake, The Secret Eleanor) turns her prodigious talents to historical Fact. In prose as clear as creek water, nailing a narrative voice both sympathetic and judicious, with humor and passion, she tells the true story the history books leave out: of the great railroad strike of 1877, when "ordinary" men and women rose in anger against a system stacked in favor of the rich and powerful and stopped the trains. It's all here--the defiance, the tragedy, the roguery and lucky breaks, the players on both sides in all their greed and grit and glory. This was a time, little remembered and unfortunately rarely repeated, when as Holland puts it, "the real Atlas shrugged." Read it.
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on January 3, 2012
If you are at all concerned about the political situation today, this book takes you back to 1877 to show you where we will end up if we allow ourselves to continue to be distracted by fringe issues. The people of 1877 were denied a good education and a living wage. Corporate greed led to worker desperation which then led to mob violence. This well-researched report is hard to put down.

In USA we have been spending too much time on issues like abortion and gay marriage, which are not the business of state. In my opinion the fringe issues are all attempts to remove the separation of church and state. Religion belongs in your own heart, and there is no certainty of who is right and who is wrong in the way of worship.

There is a certainty that basic human rights and equal application of civil law will allow peace and prosperity to thrive. Excessive power in the hands of the self-appointed elite will destroy us all. "BLOOD ON THE TRACKS" IS A WARNING THAT WE MUST NOT BE DISTRACTED BY ISSUES THAT ARE NOT THE BUSINESS OF THE STATE. If we do not heed this warning, blood will flow in the streets again.
Noreen Hulteen
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on July 18, 2011
I loaded this book just before vacation, even though I never have time to read on vacation. I was enticed by the reviewer's promise that it would explain why our railroad system is in demise, compared with other first-world countries. It did much more than that. U.S. history is better told using the narrative format, and this book is no exception. Even the physical descriptions of the main players added to my comprehension of the situation. Download this book if you love to learn and enjoy a good story, then bring it to the present day. I only wish the author had let her readers think things through on their own. Her ending comments did not add to the narrative. And by the way, I read this in one day, just slipping it out of my purse during dead times. It really is short!
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on November 13, 2015
I enjoyed learning more about a topic that one of my American history professors talked about many years ago. After that class, I'd always wanted to read something in depth about the topic. This book is the perfect fit for my curiosity, as it's brief enough to read in a few sessions but detailed enough to shed light on a topic too ignored by history. I especially appreciated the author's parallels between 1877 and the current era at the end. It's true, it's easy to destroy something in which one has no stake. For me, that summed up the main cause of the strike and successive riots very nicely.
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on October 30, 2012
I don't know how to review this because I don't exactly know what it is about...some type of union or labor uprising that involved trains. And, I hate that because I love uprisings and overthrow of 'the man', especially when it is based on a true story!

Really, I'm sure this was based on an important topics and I don't mean to be so blithely shrugging away the death of innocent people but the writing and details were so convoluted that I felt like I was caught in a downpour of word drops without an umbrella.

I was attracted to this Kindle single because of the topic of history. This story concerns The Great Railroad Strike of 1877. I actually had to go back and look things up ON THE INTERNET (gasp!) because I learned so little from this book. Apparently, during the depression, the owners of the four biggest railroads in NY state cut workers' salaries by 10% and tried to break the unions while raking in huge profits. Sound similar to today? History does have a way of repeating itself.

I think this is an important topic but felt absolutely no connection to the story and just couldn't wait for it to be over.
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on July 6, 2012
This is a book about an event that is rarely mentioned in high school or college history. Reading it reminded me that in the past people were aware of class, of the exploitation of labor by capital, and how the police power of the state was frequently used to perpetuate patterns of domination. I am grateful to the author for writing this book. I hope many others will read it and think about who won the class war. As a former Kentucky governor asked in the 1890s, "The question is whether the corporations will be the masters or servants of the people." I think we all know how the question has been answered.

As several others have mentioned, a small map or diagram would have been very nice -- the movements of the crowd and troops was hard to follow.
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on November 24, 2011
Taking place in 1877, the author takes the reader on a factual tour of the underpaid workers against the giants of the time, the major railroad companies. The action takes place in West Virginia, but mainly Pennsylvania.
The book is pro-labor and nicely lays out working conditions in that era. The workers have had it. They, strike, rebel, and riot. The railroads strike back with the state militias.
It's an interesting piece that climaxes in Pittsburgh. The writing, I found a bit too dry. In the end the author makes a correlation between 1877 & 2011. You can be the judge of that in this 79 page short story
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on November 28, 2011
Cecelia Holland's "Blood on the Tracks" is a well-researched and well-written historical narrative about the 1877 uprising of railroad workers on the East Coast of the U.S. It began small but spread to bigger cities when the railroad wanted to cut workers' wages by 10% which would mean an already struggling group of people would have it even worse. The Pennsylvania RR decided to run their trains with two engines in tandem thereby pulling more cars but needing fewer crew members, and that meant layoffs.

Railroad workers began to strike and state militias were called up. By 1877 most state militias had served their purpose and were fairly ineffective in controlling large crowds of rowdy people. This is a very interesting story that isn't often told, but had an impact on the railroads on the East coast. At the time this took place, only twelve years after the end of the Civil War in 1865, a small group of people held a good portion of the wealth, wages were low, millions were unemployed, and some banks had failed.

This is an excellent Kindle Single to read since this event isn't found in most of the history books today. I'm familiar with several of the places mentioned, and I've seen what the decline of the railroad, even today, has done to places like Cumberland, MD. This is well worth reading for the knowledge and also for a comparison of what was going on at the end of the nineteenth century vs what is happening today.
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