Growing up outside of Atlanta and going to college in Northwest Georgia, of course I had heard about the Great Locomotive Chase and had even seen the General on school field trips to Kennesaw, but I knew very little about the chase itself and, as I found out, what I did know was largely false or inflated by myth. This was a very thorough and entertaining story about a very small chapter in Civil War history. Russell Bonds's research was meticulous and Bronson Pinchot's narration was gripping. I have to take a moment here to apologize to Mr. Pinchot because, while I knew I wasn't going to be listening to Balki or Serge narrate this book, I was a good 10 minutes in before I realized "Hey, this is actually Bronson Pinchot!" He did a fantastic job bringing the story to life and finding the subtle humor in some of the text with timely pregnant pauses and more ironic moments pointed out with conspiratorial undertones.
As I said before, I knew very little of this story even though it happened practically right in my backyard in Georgia. As the story unfolded and the General plowed up through NW Georgia I could imagine my own drives up I-75 and thinking about all the landmarks that the General was passing and my own experiences going through that countryside. After the chase was over, I also felt the Union soldiers' pain as they were held prisoner and their anguish at losing their friends and not knowing what was going to happen to them next. Bonds' description of the Yankees eventual escape was so engrossing, I continued to listen to the book even once I got home as I do almost all of my audio book listening in the car going to and from work.
In the early part of the book, Bonds points out significant landmarks in Atlanta and Marietta which pertain to the Great Locomotive Chase. I plan to buy a copy of this book so that I have it handy on my next trip home to Atlanta so I can visit these landmarks and hopefully pick up a little bit more knowledge of this intriguing moment of Civil War history.
Written as if the author was there
The Main character; Had the gumption to attempt to steal the engine
I love to learn and I love to listen to true stories, biographies, history and real life adventures.
This was an amazing story of adventure and the fact that it is based off of real life factual events makes it all the better. ☺
Very interesting and educational book - I knew little about the civil war and nothing about this part of it. The book had humor and intrigue even though you know from early on how it ends. I would highly recommend this "listen".
American patriot, veteran, historical researcher and writer.
This is not one of those "more of the same" old Civil War stories. This was an exciting adventure, that was daring, complex, and told in a masterful way. Mr. Bonds did a fabulous job in researching the historic train theft, and carefully extracting truths from so much bravado and Hollywood fiction that has become attached to this event thorough time. Bronson Pinchot delivered a superb performance in his reading. The story and performance kept me involved through the whole listening experience. I believe this book spans more than just an historical account of the great train theft. It was a thrilling listen and would be even a better movie, if they would stick to story as the author has presented it to us.
Faced with mindless duty, when an audio book player slips into a rear pocket and mini buds pop into ears, old is made new again.
Stealing the General is an interesting but not thrilling piece of history in the hands of Russell Bonds. The fundamental story is a harrowing adventure but the writer only reports the facts. Bronson Pinchot, the teller of the tale, sounds like Jack Webb saying “Just the Facts ma’am”.
Bonds offers a brief review of the history of the American Medal of Honor. He reports facts about its diminishing honorary value and increasing politicization. Bonds suggests Theodore Roosevelt reverses that politicization by establishing apolitical criteria for awarding the Medal. The Medal of Honor has re-gained its prestigious reputation but the criterion for award continues to evolve. The last modification was in 1963.
Stealing the General becomes a movie. It certainly has the makings of a great drama but Bonds only reports the facts. He misses emotive drama.
I have only listened to the audio version.
I have not listened to any other of Mr Pinchot's readings that I am aware of. I did not realize until after I had completed parts 1 and 2 that he was the reader being familiar with one of his past tv series. I did think, quite a few times during listening to the book that the narrator was very good.
No, it was too long for that.
I have had this book on my wish list for many months but I only recently got it because it was on sale for 4.95. I have listened to many audiobooks on the civil war. I had read the summary and thought "what the heck". After a slow start, this was a fascinating story that I was not aware of. I found it to be very entertaining and highly recommend it.
No. I enjoyed learning more about the Civil War and railroads at the time, but the raid itself wasn't particularly exciting, nor was it in any way successful. It was never really made clear why they chose this particularly obtuse way to try and sabotage a railroad (stealing a train and then destroying the track and bridges behind it as they headed north). And given that they did, the approach they took seemed to maximize the chance for failure. The opportunities to muddle the operation of a single-track railroad seem numerous, especially with 24 men. The chosen method, while daring, seems particularly stupid and unworthy of great attention.
Also: Bonds rather pointlessly follows every person or object vaguely related to the raid through the following century and even beyond--not just the raiders, but the generals (and the General), the southern railway men and jailers, and medals of honor in general. The details of the survivors' squabbles over the details of the raid made me regret my typical compulsion to read/listen to most books to the bitter end.
Fortunately, he didn't really change his voice for various characters (of course, there's little if any dialog in the book anyway). He got a little over emotional for my taste at times, but in general was quite easy to listen to.
In the end, the story just wasn't interesting or exciting enough to justify a book of this length.
The book would have been more intriguing if the ending was unknown and not told at the beginning. Although there were some exciting passages, I found it slow going. Knowing the end, the difficulties became predictable failures.
Make no mistake: this is a complete, thoroughly researched, and well-organized account of one of the most infamous events of the Civil War. The Audible version is also well-narrated by Bronson Pinchot (that's right- "Balki" from Perfect Strangers). Unfortunately, I found myself constantly thinking about how many other Civil War heroes undoubtedly had far greater stories that were never told and/or never achieved the notoriety of this tale. It's not surprising that many of the movies, speeches, and books that previously dealt with this story felt the need to "embellish" the facts.