NOTHING LIKE IT IN THE WORLD is the story of the men who built the transcontinental railroad ? the investors who risked their businesses and money; the enlightened politicians who understood its importance; the engineers and surveyors who risked, and sometimes lost, their lives; and the Irish and Chinese immigrants, the defeated Confederate soldiers, and the other labourers who did the backbreaking and dangerous work on the tracks.
The US government pitted two companies ? the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific Railroads ? against each other in a race for funding, encouraging speed over caution. Locomotives, rails and spikes were shipped from the East through Panama or around South America to the West, or lugged across the country to the Plains. In Ambrose's hands, this enterprise, with its huge expenditure of brainpower, muscle and sweat, comes vibrantly to life.