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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 (272 )
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4.2 (220 )
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  •  
    Kathy Bedford, TX, United States 05-17-12
    Kathy Bedford, TX, United States 05-17-12 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "The Great Bridge"

    Parts of this book are very interesting,,,, the rest - well you have to REALLY want to understand bridge engineering and NY politics

    24 of 25 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tim United States 06-01-12
    Tim United States 06-01-12 Member Since 2010

    My reviews are always pending.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "An Historian and not a Novelist"

    I have to disagree to most of the negative reviews from other readers that have posted on The Great Bridge. David McCullough is a historian and not a novelist. He does not write stories with happy endings with complex plots. McCullough writes American history with proven facts.

    That being said, The Great Bridge is an awesome story about our engineering, infrastructure, corruption, and American pride. The book is very interesting because it really happened and the Brooklyn Bridge is still standing after 129 years.

    Even Hollywood takes tribute to the Brooklyn Bridge in movies. As the world freezes, or aliens conquer the planet, the bridge still stands as a symbol of pride.

    I really hope that David McCullough will write on the Hoover Dam next. There are other authors that covered this topic, but I can only imagine that they are not complete.

    10 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert COVENTRY, CT, United States 06-10-12
    Robert COVENTRY, CT, United States 06-10-12 Member Since 2003
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    "A Tour de Force of Engineering and NY Politics"

    It is hard to imagine that a book of this length could be written about the building of a single bridge. Indeed, 1776, McCullogh's outstanding history of the revolutionary war, is a third the length. One must conclude that McCullogh became obsessed with the bridge and the people responsible for completing one of the most unique engineering feats of the 1800's. He did exhaustive research and was the first to explore the rich archives at RPI which provide many of the details. While I wish he had spent more time on the engineering and less time on the politics, I suspect many listeners will feel quite the opposite. Regardless, this is a great historical book, and it provides more insight into life in the late 1800s than any other book I have read.

    I was very sorry when this amazing story ended.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Laurel Ukiah, ca, United States 06-12-12
    Laurel Ukiah, ca, United States 06-12-12 Member Since 2011

    Grey Dragon

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    "Pssst, Buddy. Wanna buy a bridge?"

    Any book by David McCullough lays out more material than most people want to hear. But he also tells you things you ever knew and you feel you should. Like, did you know that Brooklyn was the third largest city in the United States when this bridge was built? Or how important Brooklyn was because of it's Naval yards? Or that Brooklyn was more than a joke on radio quiz shows? And why then Yankees vs the Dodgers was such an intense rivalry?

    I had read a bit about the Roebling family and that is took the entire family to get the bridge built. Yet I did not know enough to not be surprised at what I learned about other prominent characters of that time. It took a railway man to really know how important the bridge would be.

    You will suffer with the Roeblings and the horrific death of the father. You will be astonished at their ignorance of the "bends." You will rejoice in their eventual triumph and gaze in awe at the opening day celebrations. At least, I did.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Clare Chapel Hill, NC, United States 04-12-13
    Clare Chapel Hill, NC, United States 04-12-13 Member Since 2011

    I am a dancer, health professional, meditator and avid reader. I listen to audio books while driving, working out and doing chores. I listen to non-fiction more than fiction, but enjoy both. I like books I can learn from or be inspired by. I post my favorites on Pintrest.

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    "The Great engineer vs the politicians!"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the Brooklyn Bridge, history or engineering.


    What did you like best about this story?

    It is a story of many hardworking people who had vision and perseverance. It was frustrating at times to listen to the book when it was describing the politicians and their obnoxious behavior. It made the chief engineer seem that much greater that he had to deal with their insulting and costly behavior. The chief engineer suffers the "bends" and long lasting consequences in which he has to direct the bridge building through letters he dictates to his wife. She is his eyes, ears, feet and takes the physical role he is unable to.
    She is the heroine of the story.


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

    He has a firm fatherly voice that sounds as if he was there telling the story. He has feeling in his voice that communicates the suppressed anger of the engineer, the joy of the workers and onlookers, and the magic feeling of tying Brooklyn and New York together.
    He has a tenderness when talking about the chief engineer's wife, who is essential to the story.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Edmond Nassim montreal, quebec Canada 03-11-13
    Edmond Nassim montreal, quebec Canada 03-11-13
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    "A must read for every New Yorker"
    Where does The Great Bridge rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    The book ranks up there with the top books and is very informative.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Detail, detail, detail...about the engineers that built the bridge, the politicians, the way of life during the 870's, etc.


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

    The tragedy that surrounded the Reobling's life.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Curtis Rettig high on a mountain 04-03-14
    Curtis Rettig high on a mountain 04-03-14 Member Since 2012

    Yosemite Curt

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    "Interesting and lifting."
    Would you listen to The Great Bridge again? Why?

    Yes - I'll probably listen to it again even after already listening.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Very well characterized the challenges in their day.


    What about Nelson Runger’s performance did you like?

    I appreciate Nelson Runger, but, I'm very tired of him. I've listened to him read at least 50 books.


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

    Yes. The battle Roebling had with the worthless politicians who were willing to scrap thehim, the greatest asset of the bridge. Politicians always short-shrift the doers in the world - it's still true today!


    Any additional comments?

    I loved this book. I've heard almost every book I think in this genre - historical engineering projects, and this is one of the best. Highest recommendation.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jack Benadon LA, CA 09-13-13
    Jack Benadon LA, CA 09-13-13 Member Since 2007
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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
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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
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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
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