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Book Review


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With so many books available at your local hobby shop, (We entered more than 120 into this list with our first compilation) weeding out the useful ones from the duds can be a daunting task.  It is our hope that you will be able to use this area to find the types of information that you're interested in.

While you're at it, why not take a minute and tell us what you think of some of the publications that you have read.  The submission form is simple and quick, and your opinions matter. 

Book Review Form




The General & the Texas: A Pictorial History of the Andrews Raid, April 12, 1862

By Stan Cohen, James G. Bogle  / Pictorial Histories Publishing Company / May 1999
On April 12, 1862, twenty Union soldiers and two civilians stole a train powered by a locomotive named "The General" just north of Atlanta. Their mission was to drive the train north to Chattanooga, destroying bridges, railways, and rolling stock along the way. Confederates, however, commandeered several engines, including "The Texas, " and initiated what became known as "The Great Locomotive Chase." Two movies and numerous books have been dedicated to this chapter in American history, but this is the first pictorial account of the incident. A thorough narrative is accompanied by numerous archival photographs, drawings, and maps associated with raid. After abandoning their mission, eight of the Union soldiers were executed and the remainder exchanged for Confederate POWs. The first Congressional Medals of Honor were awarded to the Union soldiers who participated.

Excellent - 100% (1)    Good - 0% (0)     OK - 0% (0)     Poor - 0% (0)

Fascinating recounts as told at the time.  One of my favorites. - L. L.

Highly readable - A. R.




The Northern Railroads in the Civil War, 1861-1865

By Thomas Weber / Indiana University Press / March 1999

Time has been very good to Thomas Weber's premier account of the impact of the railroads on the American Civil War and vice versa. Although it has been out of print since the 1970s, it has never been out of demand. Weber's analysis shows not only how the North was helped to victory through its effective use of the rails, but also how the war changed the way railroads were built, run and financed in the years after the war.

Excellent - 0% (0)    Good - 0% (0)     OK - 0% (0)     Poor - 0% (0)




Nothing Like It In the World : The Men Who Built the Transcontinental Railroad 1863-1869

By Stephen Ambrose / Simon & Schuster / November 2001
Nothing Like It in the World gives the account of an unprecedented feat of engineering, vision, and courage. It is the story of the men who built the transcontinental railroad -- the investors who risked their businesses and money; the enlightened politicians who understood its importance; the engineers and surveyors who risked, and sometimes lost, their lives; and the Irish and Chinese immigrants, the defeated Confederate soldiers, and the other laborers who did the backbreaking and dangerous work on the tracks. Linn Westcott explains how to convert the plans for use in the various model scales and how to build a layout from a plan.
The U.S. government pitted two companies -- the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific Railroads -- against each other in a race for funding, encouraging speed over caution. Locomotives, rails, and spikes were shipped from the East through Panama or around South America to the West or lugged across the country to the Plains. In Ambrose's hands, this enterprise, with its huge expenditure of brainpower, muscle, and sweat, comes vibrantly to life.

Excellent - 50% (5)    Good - 20% (2)     OK - 20% (2)     Poor - 10% (1)

Great Story, very engaging - D.C.

Heartless - T.H.



Railroads in the Civil War: The Impact of Management on Victory and Defeat

By  John Elwood Clark / Louisiana State University Press / December 2001
"Despite popular depictions in film and print, soldiers in the American Civil War did not always travel by horse, wagon, or foot. Advances in railroad systems in the decade before the war allowed the movement of large numbers of troops via railway, even through railroads had not yet matured into a truly integrated transportation system. Gaps between lines, incompatible track gauges, and other vexing impediments remained in both the North and South. As John E. Clark Jr. explains in this compelling study, the skill with which Union and Confederate war leaders dealt with those problems and utilized the rail system to its fullest wartime potential reflects each side's overall war management ability as an essential ingredient for ultimate victory." After providing an excellent overview of Union and Confederate railway capabilities and effectiveness at decision-making. Clark details two specific rail movements as case studies in logistical management - the Confederacy's transfer of General James Longstreet's 13,000 men from the Army of Northern Virginia to the Army of Tennessee in the fall of 1863 and the Union's responding shift of 23,000 soldiers in the 11th and 12th Corps into the western theater, movements key to the battles at Chickamauga and Chattanooga. Using exciting stories found in diaries and letters as well as official records and telegrams. Clark explains how the Union wisely and confidently organized and directed and massive undertaking and how the Confederacy, having failed to properly mobilize its rail system for war, did not.

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Tracks to the Sea: Galveston and Western Railroad Development, 1866-1900

By Earle B. Young / Texas A&M University Press / September 1999
In Tracks to the Sea: Galveston and Western Railroad Development, 1866-1900, Earle B. Young traces the efforts of "railroad generals" Jay Gould and Collis Huntington to control Texas' railroad ventures, as well as the struggles of the new railroads built during this era, such as the Houston and Great Northern; the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe; and the Houston and Texas Central. Young also examines the men behind the rails, and the goals and rivalries which shaped the routes and profits of Texas railroads, especially Galveston's George Sealy in his battle with New York's Gould for the route to the thriving seaport and Gould's competition with Huntington over who would dominate the southwestern lines.

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