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Empire Express Building the First Transcontinental Railroad

Bain, David Haward

231 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 067080889X / ISBN 13: 9780670808892
Published by Viking, New York, 1999
Used Condition: Near Fine Hardcover
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"Empire Express is one of those books that anyone with any interest in railroad history or the American West must acquire and keep close at hand. It is gargantuan, truly towering, and thanks to David Haward Bain's lengthy and painstaking research it is as complete as this subject can ever be." Ships same or next business day. ; 2.2 x 9.3 x 6.3 Inches; 797 pages. Bookseller Inventory # 38318

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Empire Express Building the First ...

Publisher: Viking, New York

Publication Date: 1999

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:Near Fine

Dust Jacket Condition: Near Fine

Edition: First Edition.

About this title


-- A Main Selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club-- A finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Awards-- Appeared on the San Francisco Chronicle and Wordstock bestseller lists


On the morning of May 10, 1869, a gang of Irish immigrants met a party of Chinese laborers on a windy bluff northwest of Salt Lake City, Utah. Tired to the bone, the two groups laid down the last of countless wooden ties, bought at the exorbitant cost of six dollars apiece, and thus joined two great rail lines, the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific, to form a single transcontinental route. That rail line made possible the mass settlement of the West, and, as those who conceived it well knew, it changed the course of American history.

David Haward Bain's superb narrative of westward rail history, weighing in at 800 pages, ends not with this great achievement but with the political and financial scandal that would almost overshadow it. Along the way Bain looks closely at the entrepreneurial men who foresaw the possibilities of a vast nation joined by a steel ribbon--most memorably the hit-and-miss businessman Asa Whitney, who proposed to Congress an ingenious scheme to fund the building of the railroad through commercializing the right of way. Some of the men who came after Whitney, such as Mark Hopkins, Collis Huntington, and Leland Stanford, amassed great fortunes in realizing this dream. Others died penniless and nearly forgotten in the wake of political maneuverings and bad deals. Bain's vigorous, well-written narrative does much to restore those overlooked actors to history. --Gregory McNamee

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