Advance reader reviews of The Race Underground by Doug Most.

The Race Underground

Boston, New York, and the Incredible Rivalry That Built America's First Subway

By Doug Most

The Race Underground
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  • Published in USA  Feb 2014,
    352 pages.

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There are currently 25 member reviews
for The Race Underground
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  • Joan P. (Owego, NY)


    The Race Underground
    This book is the painstakingly researched but very readable story of the men and machines that brought rapid underground transit to New York City and Boston. In the half century after the Civil War, America saw the engineering marvel of the Brooklyn Bridge, the use of electricity to illuminate our buildings,electric motors to do many laborious jobs, the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad, and man's first attempts at flight.The entrepreneurial spirit was alive in America and men with vision and courage pushed through political snarls and almost impossible physical obstacles to build subways.This book gives us an insight into the lives of the men who accomplished this task. I'm only an occasional non-fiction reader but I thoroughly enjoyed this book and have recommended it to two book clubs.
  • Patricia H. (Norman, OK)


    Blood, Swear and Fears Underground
    "The Race Underground" is a critical and detailed examination of two cities engaged in an intense rivalry in the late 19th century. New York and Boston, at the time this adventure started, were both dirty and crowed cities. Horse draw streetcars had been the basic means of transportation for over 50 years leaving little to the image the suffocating stench. Alfred Beach, publisher of Scientific American, had a dream of using an underground system But many challenges lie in his way from political to technological to the inbred fear of being underground. His dream comes to fruition in the tale of two brothers, one successful the other not so much, two cities and two subways. This is a detailed account of how New York and Boston tunneled their way into a transformation from the pre-industrial to a world of new possibilities.
  • Laurie F. (Brookline, MA)


    Good Story for Bostonians and New Yorkers
    The Race Underground is a good historical account of the characters involved in the early days of mass transit in the cities of Boston and New York. I wonder if the book would appeal to those not familiar with these great American cities.
    I must confess I am from the Brookline/Boston area where much of the events took place so I found the background quite interesting yet the writing style was not as fine-tuned as it could have been missing the flow of a well-seasoned author.
  • Poornima A. (Walpole, MA)


    Compelling Slice of Americana
    The path from horse-drawn carriages in the late nineteenth century to electric subways was not always a linear solution, nor was it easy. Yet in Boston and New York, two of the country's early-growth cities, the need to relieve congestion was an absolutely imperative one. I find it interesting that today, any grander agenda for the expansion of subways -- or public transportation in general -- seems to have taken the back burner, superseded by Americans' love of the automobile. But Doug Most's chronicle of how the subways got their start in two of the most dynamic metropolises in the United States makes for riveting and compelling reading. The addition of pictures would have made for an even more complete look, but Most's writing definitely fills in the gaps smoothly. I was completely transported. Highly recommended, especially for history geeks.
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