Forget about the fictional accounts of the expansion into the Western United States. The real story is much more fascinating and inspiring. You will not believe what it took to build a transcontinental railroad across the unsettled West. The Great Railroad Race of the Central Pacific and the Union Pacific to lay the most track is one of the great engineering feats and contests of any century. Stephen Ambose again proves he is a master story teller and historian. He can combine the facts of the history with the stories of the people involved and weave it into a story that will keep you interested from beginnning to end. The reader is excellent as well, with a soothing voice that still displays the emotion and excitement of the situation. He also has the ability to perform several dialects without making them seem silly, as so often happpens with other readers. Explore some of the history of the United States in this epic American saga.
Wow! A fascinating story. I am a former American History student and teacher and there was a lot here that was new to me. Ambrose provides a play by play of the entire process of building the railroad. He describes the events and explains the issues. He includes all the people involved from the President to the laborers in the field. It read more like a story than a history text, with the intricacies of all the characters and events. After listening to this book, I had a good sense of the immense magnitude of this project and why it is one of the most remarkable accomplishments by a people. With all the of political and financial intrigue, it is surprising that it ever got finished. The only problem with the book might be the amount of detail provided. While it is accessible to anyone, this book is not for somebody looking for an introduction to 19th Century American History. It is a complete examination of the topic and Ambrose does an excellent job of presenting the whole story while not losing sight of the big picture. I have also listened to "Band of Brothers," also by Ambrose, and there was a familiar pacing and style shared by both books.
A unique saga of a tremendous endeavor that is rarely covered in US schools. The years of effort, and the legions of humans who achieved this are tremendous sagas.
The story brings life to the building of the transcontinental railroad. Very well researched and presented. I recommend readers visit the UP displays in North Platte, NE and Cheyenne, WY and the California Railroad Museum in Old Town Sacramento, CA.
Mr. Dodge, who first piqued Abe Lincoln's interest in the railroad, fought for it at the highest levels, surveyed most of the UP route personally and supervised much of the construction.
Have not listened to others.
The problems and solutions involved in getting the CP over the Sierra range, and the fraud involved in the UP.
Highly recommended for those interested in history and/or railroading. I've traveled the entire route both by car and rail - having been there adds a lot to the story - I would recommend listeners try to drive I-80 or take Amtrak's California Zephyr as they both run close to the original route (except for the Zephyr thru the Colorado Rockies rather than the original route through southern Wyoming). I only gave 4 stars to the story as there are some repetitive moments in the book.
I gave a valiant effort, and I finished the book ... it felt as if it took as long to listen to this book as it did for these men to build the railroad.
To say that the writing was repetitive and redundant is an understatement. Yes, it's history, written by a historian, but it wasn't necessary to make it as boring as a classroom! I believe there is a close proximity to the number of spikes in the railroad and the number of words in the book ... the spikes were necessary.
He did well, considering with what he was working.
write this review to save other readers the trouble of listening
Narration is slow and rhythmic, reminiscent of the steam engines hauling the 19th century trains this book highlights. The story is detailed, covering the personalities and techniques of building the nation's RR between east and west and the impact it had on the population at the time.
Fascinating topic, heroic feat accomplished. Same message repeated too many times.
More personal information about the key characters.
Reads fast, and entertaining, better than fiction, like all of Ambrose. A people's historian this is a man who knows how to make history fun. He gets human interest and writes with balance and never bores you, never bogs down in detail, but he does not forget facts and figures either. He has a catching sense of awe. The story is great and touches on all the players and angles, without casting shadows or judgements really. They're not saints, they're not devils, they are men, who cheated and stole and did giant things too. And the immigrants have their story. There are too many good episodes and haunting touches to recall, but the Chinese in the snow is something you never hear about elsewhere, and the details on the dynamite were familiar, but more deeply explored here than in any textbook I remember. I expect almost anyone will enjoy this, though perhaps skip the intro. That was done by the author, and his voice is shaky and hard to bear for as long as he goes. He was old, and I know not in good health when doing it. On the whole, I can't say enough how great it is to find a non-fiction book read like a novel. Why do these companies often hire anyone they can find who can go droning on in a monotone for days at a time to read history books like the dictionary? Do they think only boring people buy these? I don't want to think of myself as boring. Another book of Ambrose's I read through audible was brutal at times due to a flat robotic voice, but this one shines.
Yes, As a history buff I long to listen and read to historiains who can informe you on a historical fact without putting you to sleep. Plus lean something you did not know that you can pass on to others and have them say " I did not know that".
General Dodge. Fantasic person with vision.
The Union Pacific crossing that plains and confronting the Indian tribes. Some many broken promises and you see how the lasting conflicts would and did develop.
When the Central Pacific and Union Pacific met. We truly became a Nation joined.
I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in American History, as well as the west, and of course the transcontinental railroad. It is comprehensive, and full of details. The author pulled all available research into the words in this book, and it was very interesting.
No single favorite character.
It wasn't his performance that was lacking, but instead it seemed to be the recording that seemed rather dated. It sounded like it was recorded on a plain old fashioned tape recorder, and you could even hear audible clicks when a recording session was ending or a new one beginning. The performer did a fantastic job, but instead the recording equipment and production were low quality.