Railroaded: Book summary and reviews of Railroaded by Richard White

Railroaded

The Transcontinentals and the Making of Modern America

by Richard White

Railroaded by Richard White X
Railroaded by Richard White

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Book Summary

The transcontinental railroads of the late nineteenth century were the first corporate behemoths. Their attempts to generate profits from proliferating debt sparked devastating panics in the U.S. economy. Their dependence on public largess drew them into the corridors of power, initiating new forms of corruption. Their operations rearranged space and time, and remade the landscape of the West. As wheel and rail, car and coal, they opened new worlds of work and ways of life. Their discriminatory rates sparked broad opposition and a new anti-monopoly politics.

With characteristic originality, range, and authority, Richard White shows the transcontinentals to be pivotal actors in the making of modern America. But the triumphal myths of the golden spike, robber barons larger than life, and an innovative capitalism all die here. Instead we have a new vision of the Gilded Age, often darkly funny, that shows history to be rooted in failure as well as success. 8 pages of black-and-white illustrations

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"[An] important and deeply researched history." - Publishers Weekly

"White's exhaustive study is recommended to serious students." - Library Journal

"Starred Review. Excellent big-picture, popularly written history of the Howard Zinn mold, backed by a mountain of research and statistics." - Kirkus

"Combining a robust wit with a dedication to endless labor in archives, Richard White delivers a sharp-edged new understanding of industrialization in the Gilded Age. Railroaded offers flabbergasting views of the human talent for self-justification and contradiction, provides a valuable—if unsettling—comparison to the financial troubles of our times, and shows why the best historians are compared to detectives. To readers intimidated by the topic of railroad finance: master your fears and stay on board for a very wild ride." - Patricia Limerick, Center of the American West, University of Colorado

This brilliant book will forever change our understanding of the great railroad projects of nineteenth century America. Stripping away easy assumptions of technological triumph and financial wizardry, Railroaded tells a richer and darker story of post-Civil War America. Smashingly researched, cleverly written, and shrewdly argued all the way through, this is a powerful, smart, even angry book about politics, greed, corruption, money, and corporate arrogance, and the America formed out of them after the Civil War." - William Deverell, Director, Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West

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