Now in paperback, Fire and Steam tells the dramatic story of the people and events that shaped the world’s first railway network, one of the most impressive engineering achievements in history. The opening of the pioneering Liverpool and Manchester Railway in 1830 marked the beginning of the railways’ vital role in changing the face of Britain. Fire and Steam celebrates the vision and determination of the ambitious Victorian pioneers who developed this revolutionary transport system and the navvies who cut through the land to enable a country-wide network to emerge. The rise of the steam train allowed goods and people to circulate around Britain as never before, stimulating the growth of towns and industry, as well many of the facets of modern life, from fish and chips to professional football. From the early days of steam to electrification, via the railways’ magnificent contribution in two world wars, the checkered history of British Rail, and the buoyant future of the train, Fire and Steam examines the social and economical importance of the railway and how it helped to form the Britain of today.
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Christian Wolmar is a writer and broadcaster. He writes regularly for the Independent and Evening Standard, and appears frequently on TV and radio. His previous books include the widely acclaimed The Subterranean Railway, a history of the London underground, and On the Wrong Line, an account of rail privatization.From AudioFile:
Christian Wolmar recounts the history of British railroads from their predecessors in the 1700s to the present day. His accent is strong, and he frequently falls into a choppy pattern of word-for-word reading, which breaks up phrases and throws off proper word emphasis. But the expressive, congenial quality of his voice and his clear enthusiasm for his subject overcome these distractions. The early story of the railways is industrial, technological, and even intellectual history of some importance and general interest. But the book's sometimes-long passages of specific local detail will interest only specialists, despite the author's enthusiasm. W.M. © AudioFile 2009, Portland, Maine
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