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It is Christmas Eve 1940. The United States is on the brink of war, the automobile is king of the road, and racial prejudice is the norm in the South. On an isolated stretch of track between Mississippi and Louisiana, two trains are barreling toward each other to what only can be a tragic end. One is the Silver Star, a luxury passenger train filled with holiday travelers and Artemus Kane, a brakeman who can't help thinking about the last war, the Great War. The other carries a freight of hogs and crewmen, including engineer A.P. Dunn, who can remember every detail of the year 1923 but is having a difficult time remembering what happened that morning. Like a slow-moving train that must build up steam to reach full speed, the plot starts cautiously but chugs on steadily, carefully intertwining each character's backstory, layer upon layer, until the two trains carrying different people who may have known one another or maybe not finally connect in one last and fateful way. Vivid descriptions of passing landscape, of railroad processes, and of the smell and sound of men and trains and life make for a story that will appeal to historical fiction fans and train aficionados alike.