Nothing like It in the World : The Men Who Built the Railway That United America

Nothing like It in the World : The Men Who Built the Railway That United America

by Stephen E. Ambrose

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Overview

NOTHING LIKE IT IN THE WORLD is the story of the men who built the transcontinental railroad ? the investors who risked their businesses and money; the enlightened politicians who understood its importance; the engineers and surveyors who risked, and sometimes lost, their lives; and the Irish and Chinese immigrants, the defeated Confederate soldiers, and the other labourers who did the backbreaking and dangerous work on the tracks.
The US government pitted two companies ? the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific Railroads ? against each other in a race for funding, encouraging speed over caution. Locomotives, rails and spikes were shipped from the East through Panama or around South America to the West, or lugged across the country to the Plains. In Ambrose's hands, this enterprise, with its huge expenditure of brainpower, muscle and sweat, comes vibrantly to life.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781416511427
Publisher: Gardners Books
Publication date: 09/05/2005
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 1.25(h) x 9.00(d)

About the Author

Stephen E. Ambrose, leading World War II historian, was the author of numerous books on history including the Number 1 bestselling BAND OF BROTHERS, D-DAY (on which SAVING PRIVATE RYAN was based) PEGASUS BRIDGE and WILD BLUE. He is founder of the Eisenhower Center and the National D-Day Museum in New Orleans. He died in 2002.

Date of Birth:

January 10, 1936

Date of Death:

October 13, 2002

Place of Birth:

Whitewater, Wisconsin

Place of Death:

Bay St. Louis, Mississippi

Education:

B.A., University of Wisconsin; M.A., Louisiana State University, 1958; Ph.D., University of Wisconsin, 1963

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Nothing Like It in the World 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 71 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the 2nd Ambrose book that I have read and it was great. Ambrose has a great ability to impart the history and show individuals too. As for the person that wrote it was repetitive, yes it was, but that was the way the book was written. It overlapped periods in time from chapter to chapter. And I can't complain about a couple of sentences here and there to remind me of something I read 100 pages before. What is the big deal??? As for the the review saying everyone should be ashamed. C'mon!!!!!!! This was the history of the period. If you read many history books you find the author writes to the tone of the period discussed. I don't think Ambrose was discounting the atrocities that happened. He pointed them out and moved on. What do you want??? Him to cry and moan for chapters about injustices! That isn't the point of the book. He accounts and writes the history and WE get to judge. I don't want him doing that. Now that I am off my soapbox. This book was a page turner from the start. To be honest I thought it would be drab and boring, not at all. I urge everyone to read this. Don't listen to the people that complained.
Guest More than 1 year ago
An introduction to the building of the transcontinental Railroad. The book gives a overview of the years that this took and provides a bibliography if the reader decides they want to go into deeper detail. The book is entertaining as well as informative and is hard to put down once you get started. Ambrose describes the planning that went into the railroad, the work itself, the financing, and the people involved. This was a great feat that was accomplished and there are some blemishes that occured, and Ambrose descibes these events as they happened and allows the reader to make their own assesment on the atrocities that occured. It is not necessary for him to describe his own 'feelings' on these matters and to judge the book harshly because he does not is ludicrous. I highly reccomend this book
mikevero More than 1 year ago
Nothing Like It in the World By Stephen E. Ambrose "The men who built the transcontinental Railroad 1863 - 1869" "Nothing Like It in the World" illustrates what an accomplishment the building of the transcontinental railroad was and what it actually symbolized. This is the story of the building of The Central Pacific and The Union Pacific Railroads and the joining of the East and West Coasts of the United States by rail. The first major collaborative national project for the United States was the Civil War; the second was the building of The Central pacific and The Union Pacific Railroads. This project served as a model for the combining of government financing, private industry, lobbying, fraud, graft, and the accomplishment of huge endeavors by the United States. A real mix of what was a prelude to government and industry today. Abraham Lincoln and General Grenville M. Dodge were two of the most influential figures in the beginning and building of the Union Pacific. Lincoln was a nationally renowned railroad lawyer (and, of course a future President) who believed strongly that the two coasts needed to be united by a railroad. Dodge was a future Civil War hero who spent much of the war building and repairing railroads for the Union Army. Leland Stanford, Collis P. Huntington, Charles Crocker and Mark Hopkins were the "Big Four" from the West Coast who laid out their personal fortunes (and risked them) to get the Central Pacific built. Dodge became Chief Engineer for the Union Pacific and applied military organization to the building of that railroad. He hired many Civil War veterans (officers and enlisted) and ran the company like an army. Military protocol, a huge supply of men available after the end of the Civil War and government backing were major reasons they were able to accomplish their mission. The Central Pacific would have to blast 13 tunnels through granite before it was over and it all had to be done by hand. The largest tunnel near Donner Pass was 1,659 feet long. They worked in 20 man crews in eight hour shifts 24 hours a day. Three of the men would work at once, one holding the drill, and two swinging 18 pound sledge hammers until the hole was large enough to insert the powder and then ignite it. It was not a refined operation and resulted in many accidents and people being maimed. With this method they were able to penetrate the granite anywhere between six and 12 inches every 24 hours. The brutal manual labor performed by these Chinese, Mormons, Irish, and ex-soldiers (both Union and Confederate) is described in great detail by Mr. Ambrose. Before the joining of the two railroads, it took months and cost over $1,000.00 (1860 dollars) to travel from one coast to the other. Within one week of the final spike being driven at Promontory Summit in the Utah Territory folks were making the trip in seven days for as little as $150.00 for a first class ticket and $65.00 for third class. Also, remember that while the railroad was being built, telegraph lines were being installed for instant coast to coast communication for the first time. This not only sounded the death knell for the pony express, it opened communications, trade, family visitations, migration, and a host of other opportunities for much more of the population. There are many other notable precedents and major lasting effects of this project, but too many to mention in this venue. I would recommend that you rea
vibrantminds on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A look into how the transcontinental railroad was made. From the determination of men who made it their life goal, to amazing engineering skills, and hard work of dedicated Chinese and Irish immigrants, many of which lost their lives. The race of the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific to reach Promintory Point in Utah and connect the East to the West. An epic journey that changed the entire country and brought about an amazing feat of technology that would be hard to surpass.
bfertig on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a solid, well-researched history of the transcontinental railroad, from conception to engineering, building, and completion. Like other Ambrose works, it is replete with interesting tidbits and side-stories. For instance, he includes great info about the engineer who conceived the idea and convinced others it was possible and which route would work best. Interestingly, Abraham Lincoln and Brigham Young were both strong supporters of the railroad for various reasons. The story of this engineering feat revolves around many of the same demands and cynical behavior we are familiar with in America today: get it done quick, figure out how to pay for it later, and fix it once its built. The railroad helps, in some ways to fulfill the melting pot mythology of America, with Irish, Chinese, and Mormons sacrificing uncountable hours and lives to the service of a great engineering and economic feat.Nevertheless, like a very long train ride, this story was at times a bit monotonous. Another day another mile can only fill so many pages. I'm glad I read it, but none of the main players really stood out to me, it was difficult to keep the two companies (Union Pacific and Central Pacific) separate in my mind, and I'm not sure how much I will retain beyond what I already knew. Solid, but if you've got other things to read, go for those first.
santhony on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Fascinating history of the planning and building of the trancontinental railroad. This excellent history focuses on both termini of the railroad and the race to lay the most track before ultimately joining in Promontory, Utah. Politics, finance, fraud and intrigue permeate this book by Stephen Ambrose, a master history writer.
lgaikwad on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An easy-read history book that filled in much I did not know. Ambrose repeats himself, but repetition can be a teacher...and much was new to me. Ambrose said it was a book about "how," rather than "why" and I would agree. I wish there was more included from the Chinese and Irish perspective. Glad I read it.
morryb on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is an introductory history to the building of the transcontinental Railroad. The book gives an overview of the years that the building took place and provides a bibliography if the reader decides they want to go into deeper detail. The book is entertaining as well as informative and is hard to put down once you get started. Ambrose describes the planning that went into the railroad, the work itself, the financing and the people involved. This was a great engineering feat that occurred in American history. There are some blemishes that occurred, and Ambrose describes these events as they happened and allows the reader to make their own assessment on the atrocities that occurred. I highly recommend this book. As an additional note. Charles Francis Adams Jr. grandson of John Quincy Adams, was highly critical of the project, but eventually became president of the Union Pacific Railroad. This is another major event in American History where one of tghe Adams family participated.
J.v.d.A. on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Disappointing telling of a truly incredible feat of engineering. Ambrose's history is a largely lifeless relation of the facts, devoid of any real character or atmosphere, though the photographs are nice. The book is readable and does give you an idea of just how incredible a task the building of this rail line was but it could have been so much better.
MrsLee on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The idea of this book was interesting for me, in that the author started his research with a preconceived idea of the railroad barons, but through his studies, came to another conclusion or understanding of them. His beginning ideas were not necessarily wrong, but they were incomplete.Other than that, this was the wrong book for me to read at this point of my life. Far too many political and economic details. It bogged me down to the point that I didn't want to pick it up. This is not saying the book was bad, it would be ideal for some, and I'm sure others could skim them and dig into the history with satisfaction. However, because I have already read much about the history of the building of the railroads, I did not want to force myself to finish this book.
mtilleman07 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It's a Stephen Ambrose book. About the transcontinental railroad. Pluses: reads like a thriller. Minuses: informs vaguely like a thriller. I've always felt like Ambrose will take a good story over an informative story. You might like that more than I do, but I felt short-changed on the history front. Still, this is an under-appreciated part of American history, and the book works admirably as an introduction.
jaygheiser on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Slogging through this book turned into a tedious process for me, picking it up and setting it back down over a period of several months in which I finished a number of much more stimulating texts. I'm highly interested in the subject, but I just didn't find Ambrose's prose to be very compelling.
awilson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
About building the transcontinental railroad, but excellent book about American society in general around the time of the Civil War.
wenestvedt on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The story of rich, rich men who played finncial tricks and the common laborers who executed their grand dreams. A departure from the style of first-person interviews that typified Ambrose's WWII books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Don't read. Save yourself.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A story well worth the telling! If you think you have 'learned' this story in school, once reading along here you will soon see there is A LOT more to the tale! Think 'behind the scenes' view. Incredibly researched, wonderfully written. It IS a history book, but it isn't written like one!
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only in to it about 70 pages and it's a wonderful book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A disapointment in light of all of the other fine books written by Ambrose.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I never knew a train book could have so action in it
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