These two well-illustrated large-format books on the Lionel toy company will appeal to different audiences. Osterhoff (ed., Greenberg's Guide to Lionel Prewar Parts & Instruction Sheets; coauthor, Greenberg's Guide to Lionel Paper and Collectibles) offers a meticulously researched history of the Lionel factories. He covers its early Manhattan workshops, its factory complex in Irvington and Hillside, NJ, and its last U.S.-based manufacturing facility in Michigan. The book's strength is its descriptions of the physical buildings, with hundreds of photos, plans, documents, and other illustrations. Osterhoff spends little time on the trains themselves, and though he covers labor relations and some employee activities, he doesn't focus on what daily life was like in what the company termed the "fun factories." Osterhoff does a nice job explaining Lionel's hard times in the 1960s and its long-standing involvement with military production. This important, though narrowly focused study of the iconic Lionel is recommended for academic and larger public library business collections.
Schleicher (The Big Book of Lionel) approaches Lionel through its toys, targeting an audience of armchair hobbyists. He sprinkles in paragraphs on the company's history only to put his discussion of the toys in proper perspective. Sections of a few pages each are devoted to categories such as action log cars, stations, and the 0-scale Hudson locomotive. Though he explains the background of each product category, the real value of the book is the hundreds of recent color photos showing these wonderful trains, buildings, and accessories in their natural state on train layouts.Schleicher's delightful work is a feast for the eyes and provides enough information to make Lionel understandable to a novice. For all public libraries with model railroading collections.