Train Riding the Rails That Created the Modern World-from the Trans-Siberian to the Southwest Chief

Review From User :

Many years ago, as a young woman, I stood in the checkout line of my local bookstore, arms full of books including two copies of the new book, Chesapeake, by James Michener-one intended as a gift and one for myself. As I unloaded my purchases on the counter, the clerk scanned the pile and with great condescension asked, "Do you realize that you have two volumes of the same book' Disliking his haughty attitude, I made my eyes big and in my best dumb blonde voice said, "Well, this book, Chesapeake, looks sooo good, I think I may want to read it twice!" I still remember the snort of the tall man behind me in line as he doubled over in laughter. Well, I did read Chesapeake and it was okay but not a book I'd read twice. Train: Riding the Rails That Created the Modern World-from the TransSiberian to the Southwest Chief by Tom Zoellner, in spite of its unwieldy title, is. In fact, since I read it on Kindle, I plan to buy another copy that I can hold in hand and peruse at leisure.

There is so much covered in this book; where to begin Tom Zoellner spends four years riding rails around the world, describing each railroad from many angles and expounding on the way each is intimately tied to the political history of its country of origin. The post-train history of Great Britain, India, USA, Russia, China and other countries are examined, including their economics, art, literature, music, poetry, warfare, and science, where related to their trains. Trains are so much more than mere point to point transportation. Yet the fun part of the book lies beyond the zillions of interesting facts. "Train" is also a memoir and travelogue, as Zoellner is the best kind of travel companion you'd ever want to have, seemingly comfortable in all settings, with persons of any age, status, gender or dress. He interviews laborers, government ministers and possible love interests, all with tact, respect and camaraderie. I for one did not want this journey to end and was glad when the bite of stray dog sent Zoellner home for rabies treatment but did not dissuade him from continuing his travels where he left off. Informative AND a great read!


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