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In his new book, Stilgoe (visual & environmental studies, Harvard; Landscape and Images) examines how railroads influence their physical and social environments. He speaks as a visionary for transportation change, offering numerous examples of how a resurgent rail system based on historical example could transform America. He cites a Massachusetts case where on a highway route recently plagued by standstill traffic jams, steam-powered passenger trains once traveled at 80 miles per hour and how a newly developed commuter rail service based on this historical precedent is now greatly cutting commute times. He cites other positive points about increased rail utilization, such as fuel savings, reduced freight costs, decreased road wear and repair, less parking congestion, and the opening of fast new connections between places. Stilgoe's lyrical descriptions of abandoned railroad right-of-ways and detailed research on historic train schedules will enthrall rail enthusiasts. Unfortunately, he concentrates more on describing his historical examples and less on laying out his conclusions. His work is nonetheless an insightful contribution for those researching transportation options and is recommended for larger public and all academic libraries with transportation collections.
—Lawrence R. Maxted