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Nothing Like It In the World: The Men Who Built the Transcontinental… (2000)

de Stephen E. Ambrose

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2,542354,158 (3.72)35
Nothing Like It in the World gives the account of an unprecedented feat of engineering, vision, and courage. It is the story of the men who built the transcontinental railroad--the investors who risked their businesses and money; the enlightened politicians who understood its importance; the engineers and surveyors who risked, and sometimes lost, their lives; and the Irish and Chinese immigrants, the defeated Confederate soldiers, and the other laborers who did the backbreaking and dangerous work on the tracks. The U.S. government pitted two companies--the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific Railroads--against each other in a race for funding, encouraging speed over caution. Locomotives, rails, and spikes were shipped from the East through Panama or around South America to the West or lugged across the country to the Plains. In Ambrose's hands, this enterprise, with its huge expenditure of brainpower, muscle, and sweat, comes vibrantly to life.… (més)
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Es mostren 1-5 de 35 (següent | mostra-les totes)
An informative book on one of the most important achievements that was attained in the United States. Although the author is repetitive at times, overall the book is an enjoyable read.

I particularly enjoyed the 30+ pages of photographs included.

The book includes a bibliography and a fine index.

Persons interested in the development and growth of railroads in the United States may find this book to be of value. ( )
  SCRH | Dec 1, 2020 |
A bit repetitive, but very informative of the inner workings of government and big business.
( )
  LindaLeeJacobs | Feb 15, 2020 |
A good look at all that it took to build the first trans-continental railroad. Focuses a bit too much on the administrative/planning aspects at the expense of learning about the men who did the actual physical work and what their daily life was like. ( )
  nova_mjohnson | Jan 7, 2020 |
I initially picked this book up to help in my PhD research, intending only to look through the index and make notes on the parts and people that I needed; instead I found myself reading this book from cover to cover.

I am not a railroad enthusiast by any means, but I found the story of how the railroad was built across America to be fascinating and, from reading this book am now intending to research into this subject a little more. The Author always writes good books based upon historical events, but I am a little wary as to how factual their accounts are, and this book was no different.

My main problem with this book was how the Author appeared to praise and admire those men in big business that funded the railroad, but did little of the actual work itself. I was hoping to find more on the plight of the Chinese, Irish and Mormon labourers as well as details about life in the hell on wheels towns they lived in that followed the railways progress as well as the encounters the workers had with the Native Americans and Homesteaders who refused to relocate so the railway could cut through their land. Despite this lack of detail that, in my opinion, would have resulted in a first class account of the building of the railroad, the Author does an excellent job when writing about the backbreaking and soul destroying amount of work that went into laying every mile of these tracks. With a skilful pen he makes the reader realise what a momentously huge project this was, and how much of an accomplishment in the advancement of westbound migration the railroad was.

If you are interested in this period of American history, or in railroad history, this is a book that you would enjoy; although I would recommend doing additional reading and would recommend Empire Express for a follow up book.


Originally reviewed on: http://catesbooknuthut.com/2015/09/21/review-nothing-like-it-in-the-world-the-me...





This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
( )
  TheAcorn | Nov 8, 2019 |
Stephen Ambrose is a distinguished historian and a heck of an interesting speaker.

When his Nothing like it in the world, the story of the making of the Transcontinental Railroad fell into my lap I was looking forward to a crackling good read. And I do love trains.

But this one just - well - never really got up a good head of steam for me. There are a lot of interesting larger than life characters here, and Ambrose somehow makes them - well - smaller than life.

He gets the role of the Chinese immigrants right - at a time when California was trying to limit immigration the railroad people sent a ship at their own expense to bring in more Chinese laborers. And the Chinese knew explosives and how to blast tunnels and probably saved the CP weeks if not months with their expertise and their hard work.

He gets all the little facts right but never gets around to telling the big picture.

Sometimes the rhythm of the engine click clacking along the rails is rich and elegiac - and sometimes the writing in this is too. But mile after mile of it can get to be a bore.

Your mileage may vary. ( )
  magicians_nephew | Nov 2, 2019 |
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Next to winning the Civil War and abolishing slavery, building the first transcontinental railroad, from Omaha, Nebraska, to Sacramento, California, was the greatest achievement of the American people in the nineteenth century.
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Nothing Like It in the World gives the account of an unprecedented feat of engineering, vision, and courage. It is the story of the men who built the transcontinental railroad--the investors who risked their businesses and money; the enlightened politicians who understood its importance; the engineers and surveyors who risked, and sometimes lost, their lives; and the Irish and Chinese immigrants, the defeated Confederate soldiers, and the other laborers who did the backbreaking and dangerous work on the tracks. The U.S. government pitted two companies--the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific Railroads--against each other in a race for funding, encouraging speed over caution. Locomotives, rails, and spikes were shipped from the East through Panama or around South America to the West or lugged across the country to the Plains. In Ambrose's hands, this enterprise, with its huge expenditure of brainpower, muscle, and sweat, comes vibrantly to life.

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