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The Great Bridge: The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge | [David McCullough]

The Great Bridge: The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge

This monumental book tells the enthralling story of one of the greatest accomplishments in our nation's history, the building of what was then the longest suspension bridge in the world. The Brooklyn Bridge rose out of the expansive era following the Civil War, when Americans believed all things were possible.
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Publisher's Summary

This monumental book tells the enthralling story of one of the greatest accomplishments in our nation's history, the building of what was then the longest suspension bridge in the world. The Brooklyn Bridge rose out of the expansive era following the Civil War, when Americans believed all things were possible.

So daring a concept as spanning the East River to join two great cities required vision and dedication of the kind that went into building Europe's great cathedrals. During 14 years of construction, the odds against success seemed overwhelming. Thousands of people were put to work. Bodies were crushed and broken, lives lost, notorious political empires fell, and surges of public doubt constantly threatened the project. But the story of the building of the Brooklyn Bridge is not just the saga of an engineering miracle; it is a sweeping narrative of the social climate of the time, replete with heroes and rascals who helped either to construct or to exploit the great enterprise.

The Great Bridge is also the story of a remarkable family, the Roeblings, who conceived and executed the audacious engineering plan at great personal cost. Without John Roebling's vision, his son Washington's skill and courage, and Washington's wife Emily's dedication, the bridge we know and cherish would never have been built.

Like the engineering marvel it describes, The Great Bridge, republished on the 40th anniversary of its initial publication, has stood the test of time.

Please note: The Great Bridge (Unabridged) is available for just one credit until June 20, 2012, after which point it will be priced at two credits.

©2007 David McCullough (P)2012 Simon & Schuster

What the Critics Say

“The impact of the soaring structure upon the American imagination and American life has now been measured with sagacity and style by David McCullough....The Great Bridge is a book so compelling and complete as to be a literary monument, one of the best books I have read in years. McCullough has written that sort of work which brings us to the human center of the past.” (Robert Kirsch, Los Angeles Times)

"The Great Bridge is a great book. . . . What David McCullough has written is a stupendous narrative about the building of the Brooklyn Bridge, with a cast of thousands (give or take 100), whose major characters come alive on the page as authentically, as creatively, as would their fictional counterparts if one had the imagination to dream up such a yarn. Once again, truth is not only stranger than fiction but a hell of a lot more entertaining. Get your hands on The Great Bridge...This is the definitive book on the event. Do not wait for a better try: there won't be any.” (Norman Rosten, Newsday)

“David McCullough has taken a dramatic and colorful episode out of the American past and described it in such a way that he sheds fresh light on a whole era in American history.” (Bruce Catton)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (315 )
5 star
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3 star
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2 star
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Overall
4.3 (257 )
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
 (5)
Story
4.2 (259 )
5 star
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4 star
 (83)
3 star
 (36)
2 star
 (9)
1 star
 (7)
Performance
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  •  
    Jack Benadon LA, CA 09-13-13
    Jack Benadon LA, CA 09-13-13 Listener Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
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    "Loved this book"
    Would you listen to The Great Bridge again? Why?

    No, too long but loved it


    Any additional comments?

    Very long but fascinating--David McCollough does great work and I will read anything he writes

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Petry Santa Barbara, CA USA 04-24-13
    David Petry Santa Barbara, CA USA 04-24-13 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "The little story about the biggest bridge"

    As a reader, as a historian, I wanted to love this book. I even took it on a long flight. But the book mires itself too much in a narrow view of politics that could have been dispensed with (and made clearer) in a tenth of the space.

    The book delivered on the designer and the design, and on the construction (if skewed a bit heavily to the caissons). If that were the whole book and the politics were winnowed down, I would have given this a 4. To get the big five, because McCullough is a good writer, I would have also gotten a lot more about what was going on in the world of the 1860s to the 1880s. Carnegie is in the book as a potential steel supplier, and the different types of steel are discussed, but these things were big pendulums in the world, and even a paragraph about the force and direction of that pendulum would have made this story connect in a vibrant way to a lot of history. There were a whole host of missed opportunities like this.

    Not the big glorious flowing history that fires all the synapses that I wanted.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Philip South Pasadena, CA, United States 02-25-13
    Philip South Pasadena, CA, United States 02-25-13 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Too much of a good thing"
    What did you like best about The Great Bridge? What did you like least?

    Excruciating detail hard to understand on a recorded book instead of a book with illustrations. Much too long and the weakest I've read of a wonderful author.


    If you’ve listened to books by David McCullough before, how does this one compare?

    Not nearly as interesting as many other McCullough books.


    What aspect of Nelson Runger’s performance would you have changed?

    A little livlier.


    Could you see The Great Bridge being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

    nope


    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James Pittsburgh, PA, USA 12-07-12
    James Pittsburgh, PA, USA 12-07-12 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
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    4
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    "Best of the Best"
    If you could sum up The Great Bridge in three words, what would they be?

    History, fun, well written


    What did you like best about this story?

    History, learning


    What does Nelson Runger bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Felling to the correctors


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    How many bad people there where in the building of the bridge


    Any additional comments?

    A must listen!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anna Jolly Richmond, VA USA 10-20-12
    Anna Jolly Richmond, VA USA 10-20-12 Member Since 2001

    Well, I love to read and I am addicted to listening. I like mysteries the best, but a good book is a good book.

    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    1
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    Performance
    Story
    "Skip the beginning!"
    What made the experience of listening to The Great Bridge the most enjoyable?

    This book is huge and the background part at the beginning goes on and on. Stick it out, skim it or just skip it. When you get the the the part when the father dies and they start building the bridge, it becomes amazing. The engineering issues, the worksite issues, and New York politics are fascinating. To many people I know couldn't make it through the begining, so they missed a really great book.


    Any additional comments?

    I am a safety consultant and the material about cassion work was fascinating. A great read for safety geeks like me.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Meredith Charlotte, NC, United States 10-16-12
    Meredith Charlotte, NC, United States 10-16-12 Member Since 2008

    nedalexis43

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Dry"

    This was a disappointment for me. McCullough is a master historian AND storyteller. This time, he is also a master engineer. Engineers would be in heaven reading all the details featured here, but some of the human interest was lost in all that detail.

    I am an avid history buff, and a tech head--but The Great Bridge lost me about 3/4 of the way through. Frist time I have ever let a McCullough volume go unfinished.;

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bob Norcross, GA, United States 08-20-12
    Bob Norcross, GA, United States 08-20-12
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    "Fascinating Book"

    I grew up in New York City and had seen the Brooklyn Bridge and traveled on it many times, but never appreciated what a remarkable story there was behind the building of that bridge. In addition I learned a great deal about the history of New York City. I highly recommend this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Atlanta, GA, United States 08-20-12
    David Atlanta, GA, United States 08-20-12 Member Since 2003
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    2
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    "na"
    Would you listen to The Great Bridge again? Why?

    The book and story is amazing.


    Would you listen to another book narrated by Nelson Runger?

    I initially did not like him as he was so slow, and came close to sending it back. However the story is so compelling that I went thru the entire book which is an amazing story.

    I will also say the the preface by the author was outstanding, and then having a below average reader to follow was disappointing.

    I had recently finished the Johnstown Flood which was an AMAZING reader


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stan Lakewood, Ohio, United States 08-16-12
    Stan Lakewood, Ohio, United States 08-16-12 Member Since 2011

    Eclectic is a verb

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Story
    "Take a step back in time"
    If you could sum up The Great Bridge in three words, what would they be?

    Authentic, Historic, Personalities


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Mrs. Roebling comes across as perhaps the most able person in the story.


    What about Nelson Runger’s performance did you like?

    It was very fitting to the book style.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    I am amazed by some of the things they decided to try, working with the limited knowledge of the time. The discussion of men working under pressurized air in truly terrible conditions was quite moving.


    Any additional comments?

    I like the way McCullough weaves in not just the story of the building of the bridge, but also a great deal of historical context and other events happening at the same time.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Charles A. Laufer WILLIAMSTOWN, VT, US 08-13-12
    Charles A. Laufer WILLIAMSTOWN, VT, US 08-13-12 Member Since 2012
    ratings
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    3
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    Story
    "It's really long . . . but really good!"

    Excellent story and reading, but really long on the details, such as the biographies of a lot of engineers, politicians, and businessmen involved with the bridge. Also an hour by hour description of what went on in the caissons beneath the East River. But I listened to every word.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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