Railroad Noir The American West at the End of the Twentieth Century Synopsis
Culled from the 20 years she spent traveling the American West as a freight brakeman and conductor, Linda Grant Niemann's Railroad Noir delves into the darker side of railroading. The 1990s were a time of crisis for workers caught in the breakup of the Southern Pacific Railroad. Niemann's tales of exhaustion, alcoholism, homelessness, and corporate blundering present a revelatory account of railroading life. Photographer Joel Jensen realizes Niemann's vision of the working West with images of cowboy bars, blue motels, and railroaders working in electrical storms, white-outs, and desert heat waves. The result is an honest, gritty, and striking collaboration.
Railroad Noir The American West at the End of the Twentieth Century Press Reviews
When you open this book, prepare to be challenged. Get involved in the words, linger over the photos and when you're done you'll come away with a far greater appreciation of what life on the railroad is all about. July 1, 2010 * Railfan & Railroad * Niemann's tales of exhaustion, alcoholism, homelessness, and corporate oversight-subjects often omitted in railroad literature-present a revelatory account of life on the rails. Photographer Joel Jensen realizes Niemann's vision of the working West with images of cowboy bars, blue motels, and railroaders working in electrical storms, white-outs and desert heat waves. The result is an honest, gritty, and striking collaboration. April 2011 * NMRA Magazine * [T]his is a real coffee table book, with beautiful photos by Joel Jensen interspersed between Linda's stories. . . . I'ts a book that should be read by a bigger public than the world of rail. May 2010 * mrzine.monthlyreview.org * [Niemann] offers an important glimpse into the workaday life of railroaders in the operating crafts as the industry, especially Southern Pacific, shuddered through greatly changed and changing times during the late twentieth century. And her perspective is drawn through a feminine lens-a distinct scarcity in the literature. January 2011 * The Lexington Quarterly * Scholars who seek to understand the realities of skilled industrial labor and the lived experience of workers in the world of deregulation, Title IX, union-busting, and head-spinning corporate mergers will be nothing but pleased with this book. It should simultaneously disabuse almost anyone from seeking out this line of work while leaving them yearning for its odd poetic beauty. July 2011, Vol. 52 * Technology and Culture * There are tons of railroad books, pictorial volumes of raging locomotives and corporate histories. There are very few books like Railroad Noir. Linda not only captures working on the railroad, but simply working. Vol. 31, no. 3, July 2010 * Grand Prairie Union News * Railroad Noir is a complex and beautiful book-part memoir as told in a series of essays, part coffee table photography book with pictures that tell a visual narrative of their own. Long after you close this book, the stories and images will linger in your brain like an afterimage and may even haunt your dreams. September 2010 * www.doryadams.com * Niemann dispenses with the romanticized mythology of railroad life, and evokes the kind of beauty that only reality, warts and all, can beget.August 16, 2010 * High Country News *