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.
Stephen Ambrose is a good storyteller and I like this book sadly narration is pronounce the word we Weber around the narration and tracked from the overall experience
Ambrose does a good job of telling the story of building the first trans-continental railroad, and Jeffrey DeMunn is an excellent reader. However, there are two real issues with this recording:
1. The overall volume of the recording is quite a bit lower than most other audiobooks that I have purchased on Audible. I was surprised by how much I had to turn the volume up on this one compared to the last several that I've listened to.
2. The "mastering" of this Audible version is sub-par at best. The "chapters" that show up on your device are not the book chapters, but random breaks. You will be listening and all of a sudden there will be a 15-30 second pause in the reading. For a while I thought there was something wrong with playback, but soon noticed that this happens at the end of each "chapter" in the recording. This was incredibly frustrating, as I listen in the car and was distracted from my driving each time this happened. Its almost as if Audible ripped the audiobook from a CD version and left the dead space at each CD change!
My 2 star rating has nothing to do with the overall story or the reader.
Too much dead air between chapters. Reader did not learn specialized vocabulary pronunciation, in particular the word Weber, which in Utah is pronounced with a long e stress on the first syllable. He consistently pronounces with unstressed short e sound.
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.