Blood, Iron, and Gold: How the Railways Transformed the World

Blood, Iron, and Gold: How the Railways Transformed the World

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by Christian Wolmar
     
 

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The opening of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway in 1830 marked the beginning of a transport revolution that would forever transform the way we live. Blood, Iron, and Gold takes us on a journey encompassing jungle, mountain, and desert, revealing the huge impact of the railroads as they spread rapidly across entire countries, and linked cities that hitherto

Overview

The opening of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway in 1830 marked the beginning of a transport revolution that would forever transform the way we live. Blood, Iron, and Gold takes us on a journey encompassing jungle, mountain, and desert, revealing the huge impact of the railroads as they spread rapidly across entire countries, and linked cities that hitherto had little reach beyond their immediate environs. The rise of the train triggered daring engineering feats, great architectural innovation, and the rapid movement of people and goods across the globe. Cultures were both enriched and destroyed by the unrelenting construction of the railroads, and the new technology quickly took on a vital role in civil conflicts and two world wars.

In this beautifully illustrated book, renowned transportation journalist Christian Wolmar celebrates the vision and determination of the ambitious pioneers who developed the railways that would dominate the globe.

Editorial Reviews

H. W. Brands
Christian Wolmar has written previously on British railroads; here he takes his story global. And he makes the important point that the railroads were the driving force behind the first age of globalization, in the 19th century…Train-spotters and rivet-counters will delight in the details…
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
This spirited, dramatic history of “the most important invention of the second millennium” celebrates railroads as the central innovation of the industrial revolution, releasing economic and social energies on a stupendous scale. Historian Wolmar (The Great Railway Disaster) chronicles the heroic age of railroad construction in the 19th century, with its mix of epic engineering and horrible exploitation. (The death toll on the trans-Panamanian railroad project included a mass suicide by Chinese workers.) Riding the early railroads, he notes, was almost as harrowing as building them, as passengers braved engine cinders that set their clothes on fire—and sometimes had to get out and push underpowered locomotives up steep grades. The railroads' social impact was equally breathtaking, in Wolmar's telling: it brought city folk fresh milk, out-of-season produce, and commutes to the suburbs; spawned monopolies and spectacular corruption scandals; and played a crucial role in enabling the world wars and the Holocaust. Wolmar explores this fertile subject with a blend of lucid exposition and engaging historical narrative. The result is a fascinating study not just of a transportation system, but of the Promethean spirit of the modern age. 16 pages of color illus.; maps. (Mar. 2)
Library Journal
Journalist Wolmar tackles both how railroads developed worldwide from the 1820s forward and the profound changes they brought. He explains that countries like Italy and Germany used railroads to make themselves into unified nations, while the United States and Canada built railroads to spur settlement and development. Besides Europe and North America, Wolmar examines railroad construction in far-flung places like India, South America, Australia, and Africa. The central story is one of driven railroad builders overcoming the difficulties of terrain, disease, accidents, and finance. Wolmar concludes that rail transportation offers potential solutions for today's pressing global problems of energy and congestion. His work is both a serious history and an adventure story. Highly recommended for anyone interested in the growth and global historical impact of railroads.—LM
From the Publisher

Richard F. Harnish, Executive Director, Midwest High Speed Rail Association
Blood, Iron, and Gold reminds us that the railroads did more than just speed up travel or build up national economies. They literally changed the way human beings experienced, thought about and lived their lives. Christian Wolmar’s book should put all high-speed-rail advocates on notice. Trains can return to the American landscape, traveling twice as fast, reprising the social revolution they set off almost two centuries ago."

Library Journal STARRED Review
“[Wolmar’s] work is both a serious history and an adventure story. Highly recommended for anyone interested in the growth and global historical impact of railroads.”

Publishers Weekly
“Wolmar explores this fertile subject with a blend of lucid exposition and engaging historical narrative. The result is a fascinating study not just of a transportation system, but of the Promethean spirit of the modern age.”

Wall Street Journal
“[Wolmar] covers a great deal of territory in "Blood, Iron and Gold," but he keeps the reader engaged by highlighting extraordinary projects like the building of the Trans-Siberian Railway from 1891 to 1904. It connected St. Petersburg to Vladivostok, a distance of almost 6,200 miles. Equally stirring is the saga of Cecil Rhodes and his never-completed Cape-to-Cairo line; and that of Peru's vertiginous Central Railway, which ascends the Andes and passes through the Galera Tunnel, 15,694 feet above sea level. The book also features cameo appearances by such colorful figures as Benito Mussolini, who may or may not have made Italy's trains run on time but who definitely made them run faster and more frequently. Nor does Mr. Wolmar neglect the pop-culture angle: Agatha Christie fans will be sorry to learn that history records no instance of a real-life murder on the Orient Express.”

Dallas Morning News
“It's not clear who first thought of putting carts and carriages on flanged wheels and hauling them over iron rails behind steam engines. But the railroad, writes transportation historian Christian Wolmar, changed everything. And he means everything….It's a vast geopolitical story, but Wolmar manages to tell it without losing sight of the romance and adventure, the triumphs and frequent tragedies that accompanied the advancing rails.”

Trains Magazine
“Most attempts at a generalist approach toward railroad history err on the side of history and slight the rail side. (Blood, Iron, and Gold) keeps the two elements in graceful balance. And, thanks to Wolmar’s crisp style, it’s a pleasure to read.”

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781586488512
Publisher:
PublicAffairs
Publication date:
03/02/2010
Sold by:
Hachette Digital, Inc.
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
432
File size:
5 MB

Meet the Author

Christian Wolmar is a writer and broadcaster specializing in the social history of railways and transport. He has written for major British newspapers for many years and has contributed to many other publications, including the New York Times and Newsday. He frequently appears on TV and radio as an expert commentator. His most recent books are The Subterranean Railway, a history of the London Underground, the world's oldest system, and Fire & Steam, the story of Britain's railways.

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Blood, Iron, and Gold: How the Railways Transformed the World 2.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good historical review with international span. Just a little shallow on the promise of the book to analyse the effects of the trains on other economic and cultural aspects. For example, tells that in the US the deployment of the tracks helped created cities which is an interesting notion, but don't go any deeper than that.