Across American praries, through Siberian tundra, over Argentinian pampas and deep into the heart of Africa, the modern world began with the arrival of the railway. The shock was both sudden and universal: railways transformed the world, carrying empire, capitalism and industrialization to every corner of the planet. For some, the 'Iron Road' symbolized the brute horrors of modernity; for others the way toward a brighter future. From 1825, when the first passenger service linked Stockton and Darlington to the outbreak of World War I, Nicholas Faith's book presents a compelling journey through the first century of rail, introducing visionaries, engineers, surveyors, speculators, financiers and navvies - the heroes and the rogues of the mechanical revolution that turned the world upside down.
This is one of those books that look at the big picture of technological progress rather than the intricate workings of the invention itself. The author is more interested in the impact that the railways had on the world at large, at how railways forged entire nations by unifying them in a way that was not possible before the age of steam. President Lincoln equated the idea of the union with a transcontinental railroad and pushed through the Pacific Railroad Act during the darkest days of the Civil War. Faith also considers the cultural impact of railways, whether on the poetry of Brooke, the art of Monet and Turner, or the fact that Flaubert regularly used the train to meet his mistress. He also analyses the effects railways had on the transport of products as diverse as coal, ice, grapes and rubber, and at the industries created by the demand for railways, from the laying of tracks, the building of locomotives and the construction of stations. A very entertaining and enlightening read.
A bounty of railroad lore for anyone who fondly remembers Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express , Thomas Wolfe's lyrical description of rail journeys into the American heartland, or even their own rides on the locomotive. -- Kirkus Reviews
Publication date: 25/09/2014
Publisher: Head of Zeus
|Publication date:||25th September 2014|
|Publisher:||Head of Zeus|
|Genres:||eBook Favourites, The Real World, Travel,|
|Categories:||Trains & railways: general interest, Impact of science & technology on society, History of engineering & technology,|
Nicholas Faith writes for The Independent on Sunday (London) and many other newspapers and magazines. Christian Wolmar is the author of BLOOD, IRON & GOLD, THE SUBTERRANEAN RAILWAY, FIRE & STEAM and ENGINES OF WAR.More About Nicholas Faith