Last Train to Paradise

Henry Flagler and the Spectacular Rise and Fall of the Railroad That Crossed an Ocean
Narrated by: Del Roy
Length: 8 hrs and 14 mins
Categories: History, Americas
4.4 out of 5 stars (397 ratings)

Audible Premium Plus

$14.95 a month

1 audiobook of your choice.
Stream or download thousands of included titles.
$14.95 a month after 30 day trial. Cancel anytime.
Buy for $24.95

Buy for $24.95

Pay using card ending in
By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and Amazon's Privacy Notice. Taxes where applicable.

Publisher's Summary

The paths of the great American robber barons were paved with riches, and though ordinary citizens paid for them, they also profited. Les Standiford, author of the John Deal thrillers, tells how the man who turned Florida's swamps into the playgrounds of the rich performed the almost superhuman feat of building a railroad from the mainland to Key West at the turn of the century. An extraordinary man and partner of John D. Rockefeller in the Standard Oil Company, Flagler had the vision to build railroads to link this backward territory with the rest of America. Last Train to Paradise shows how he masterminded the nearly impossible engineering feat of spanning more than 100 miles of ocean and islands to reach the southernmost tip of the Eastern seaboard.

©2002 Les Standiford (P)2002 Books On Tape, Inc., Published by arrangement with Random House Audio Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"A powerful story told by a talented writer." (Library Journal)
"This book is a remarkable account of one man's dream that ended in disaster." (Booklist)

What listeners say about Last Train to Paradise

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    226
  • 4 Stars
    129
  • 3 Stars
    35
  • 2 Stars
    3
  • 1 Stars
    4
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    198
  • 4 Stars
    89
  • 3 Stars
    25
  • 2 Stars
    3
  • 1 Stars
    1
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    212
  • 4 Stars
    77
  • 3 Stars
    26
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    1

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

A Pleasant Surprise

This book was a pleasant listening surprise. I try to choose books beyond my regular interest for the discipline and to expand my horizons. This book by novelist Les Standiford did the trick.

Actually, the book is the nonfiction story of HM Flagler who developed Florida as a vacation destination. Only industrial archeologist can find the remains of the railroad, but Standiford brings the era, the money, the work, and the result to life for those interested today.

This is the story of an investment, a dream, ambitions, and human failings. Well read, well written, this book is a good choice.

14 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Last Train to Paradise

I'm a retired attorney from San Francisco who went to see an old college buddy in Florida planning to drive to Key West. Listened to the book on the plane. When we drove the "Keys" I put the book together with the drive. Very enjoyable. I you plan to visit the Keys, you would really like this book.

Johnny

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A really engrossing history tale

I bought this book prior to our most recent trip to Key West. Listened to it on the train south (appropriate, huh?).

I enjoy history that is told through a real person's viewpoint. The drama of the Labor Day hurricane that decimated southern Florida is the focus of the story. Background details of Henry Flagler, the man who built the rail line to paradise, is woven in. Without too many "boring" facts, but enough to give meat to the tale.

Included are writing of E. Hemmingway about what he saw in the storm's aftermath. Things too shocking to be published in the press of the day. The stories of many of Key West's notable personalities are included as well. If you're interested in Key West, this is a marvelous primer on a snippet of island's less-known past.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Suspensful, gripping. Great tale!

I bought this book prior to our first trip to Key West for listening to on the train. I wanted something a bit more "meaty" than the typical vacation read. The book did not disappoint.
It offers the story of oil barons, and the high life of pre-Great Depression society, and the dreams and goals of Henry Flagler as he envisioned and built the rail line that spanned the ocean to Key West, FL. It was called the eightth wonder of the world for a time. An engeneering masterpiece. Parts of the original train bridges are still standing. The old rail bed became the foudation of the highway to Key West, parts of which are still in use.

Unfortunately the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 destroyed the Florida East Coast Rail Line Key West Extension. The storm also killed hundreds of people.

The author spins a tale of harrowing rescues, and recounts the post storm devastation, penned by author Earnest Hemmingway and others. I shook my head at the terrible snafus of weather forecasting and "failure to communicate" that lead to so many lost lives. Listening to the narrator, I found myself holding my breath as the evacuation train headed down the line trying to outrace the storm, picking up stranded rail workers and their families on its way.

As we drove our rental car across those same Florida straits from Miami, I could envision the terror of being out there in what seems like the middle of the Ocean. I could feel the fear of mothers for their children and husbands for their wives as the storm drew down on the Keys that horrible weekend. Passing by Mattakumbae, Grassy Key, Sugarloaf Key and others, we could see how flat those little islands are and how easily the twenty foot storm swell would have wiped everything away. The author includes mile marks on the coastal highway in his narrative.

Even if you don't plat to travel to the Florida Keys, the story is engrossing.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Awesome history about the Florida Keys

If you could sum up Last Train to Paradise in three words, what would they be?

Informative engaging great

Who was your favorite character and why?

Henry Flagler, the developer of not only the Florida Keys but also the state of Florida.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

How Florida was developed

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Interesting history but sad delivery.

The story was pretty tedious to listen to, compounded by a poor reading that was monotone in execution and delivered in a (for lack of a better term) mushy voice. Disappointing in the end. The text might be enjoyed more by those with an engineering background, appreciating the myriad details of construction.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Did not enjoy it

I wanted to like this book but just couldn’t ever get into it. I had to force myself to finish it. This is NOT a biography of Henry Flagler...it’s more of a construction tale. If you’re interested in civil engineering, bridge building, etc. you will probably enjoy this book.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Loved the historical aspect.

Especially that I grew up in South Florida. Struggled a bit towards the end but it re-engaged me with the 1935 hurricane account, and finished it. Thanks!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Fascinating story

An amazing story of an incredible man whose vision and tenacity constructed the eighth wonder of the world. Masterly narrated by Del Roy.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great historical & biographical account of the railway and Florida Keys

Really enjoyed learning about the history of the south Florida railroad, trials & tribulations. Well written, well read. More historical events than you’d ever read about or hear in history class.