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The Great Train Race Railways and the Franco-German Rivalry, 1815-1914 by Allan Mitchell

The Great Train Race Railways and the Franco-German Rivalry, 1815-1914

RRP £24.00


The Great Train Race Railways and the Franco-German Rivalry, 1815-1914 by Allan Mitchell

From their origins, railways produced an intense competition between the two major continental systems in France and Germany. Fitting a new technology into existing political institutions and social habits, these two nations became inexorably involved in industrial and commercial rivalry that eventually escalated into the armed conflict of 1914. Based on many years of research in French and German archives, this study examines the adaptation of railroads and steam engines from Britain to the continent of Europe after the Napoleonic age. A fascinating example of how the same technology, borrowed at the same time from the same source, was assimilated differently by the two continental powers, this book offers a groundbreaking analysis of the crossroads of technology and politics during the first Industrial Revolution.


The breadth of [this] comparative study of French and German railroad development - the largest and most important railway systems on the continent - is a signal achievement... A brief sketch of the book's trajectory does justice neither to the wealth of detail nor to the arresting insights that future historians will draw on for years to come.

* Central European History

... a fine book. Indeed, it is a labour of love, informed by intensive research and a lifetime's interest. All historians of European railways will be greatly in its debt.

* The International History Review

The Great Train Race is a well-researched book, full of useful comparative insights into French and German railway development, and doubtless an important contribution to the history of Franco-German rivalry before World War One ... [R]ecommended to economic historians as a study which shows, in well-balanced comparative perspective, the great importance of their field for understanding political history.

* Journal of Modern History

For Mitchell, this was clearly a labor of love, and it is a pleasure to see a job well done. The book has a full scholarly apparatus along with vital charts and maps to keep things clear.

* H-German

Allan Mitchell is presenting, with The Great Train Race, a highly informed and ambitious study, in which the fundamental importance of trains for the societies of both countries has been convincingly argued.

* Historische Zeitschrift

...Presents a rich and understandable overview...The book provides an excellent model for researching and writing comparative railway histories. Such analyses of the relationship between state and railway are rare events.

* The Journal of Transport History

About the Author

Allan Mitchell is Professor Emeritus at the University of California, San Diego. He has served on the editorial boards of The American Historical Review and Central European History. Trained in both France and Germany, he has become a distinguished proponent of comparative European History.

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Book Info

Publication date

15th December 2005


Allan Mitchell

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Berghahn Books


356 pages


Trains & railways: general interest



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