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Blood, Iron and Gold: How the Railways Transformed the World (English Edition)
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Blood, Iron and Gold: How the Railways Transformed the World (English Edition) [Format Kindle]

Christian Wolmar

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  • Longueur : 400 pages
  • Langue : Anglais
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Présentation de l'éditeur

The birth of the railways and their rapid spread across the world triggered economic growth and social change on an unprecedented scale.

From Panama to the Punjab, Tasmania to Turin, Blood, Iron and Gold describes the vision and determination of the pioneers who developed railways that would link cities that had hitherto been isolated, and would one day span continents. Christian Wolmar reveals how the rise of the train stimulated daring feats of engineering, architectural innovation and the rapid movement of people and goods around the world. He shows how cultures were enriched - and destroyed - by the unrelenting construction and how the railways played a vital role in civil conflict, as well as in two world wars. Blood, Iron and Gold tells the dramatic story of how the railways changed the world.

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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 4.3 étoiles sur 5  19 commentaires
54 internautes sur 63 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Wonderful History of the Place of Railroads in History 23 février 2010
Par James R. Holland - Publié sur
Like most people, I had no idea how important railroads were to the history of the world. This over-all story of the contributions made by the Iron Horse to civilization and the industrial revolution is fascinating even to somebody like myself who really doesn't know much about trains, but who has always loved traveling on them. I prefer them to travel by automobile or airliners. From this book, it appears that I'm not alone in that love of train travel and it's wonderful to know that railroads are making a big comeback all over the planet. Railroads are still the least expensive way to move freight and raw materials and it appears that they in the process of greatly expanding their role in the economy. This is a very good read and not just for train enthusiasts. The text is accompanied by lots of helpful maps and 16 pages of really interesting photographs both in color and black and white.
11 internautes sur 11 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 An Incredible, Fascinating History of the Creation and Impact of Railroads around the World 6 avril 2010
Par J. Avellanet - Publié sur
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
For my 100th review, I chose Wolmar's Blood, Iron and Gold. If you are looking for a good, non-fiction, history book that will engage you and give you all sorts of fascinating, interesting insights, Blood, Iron and Gold is just the ticket. I am not a railroad aficianado, yet I found this book hard to put down. It's extremely well written, an easy read, and thoroughly researched. The maps and the two sets of illustrations and photographs convey all the right visuals one needs.

The first part of the book (chapters 1-4) discuss the first railroads (with rails made of wood!), the first steam engines, and their impacts on society, culture, and the political landscape. The way in which railroads have been instrumental in unifying diverse regions is fascinating. I finally understood why we, in the US, have gone from thinking of the various united states as a group of independent, allied political entities to an entire single nation (e.g., it used to be when one said "the Unites States," one used a plural verb as in "the United States are going to..."). Likewise, the same holds true for the very disjointed region - with lots of principalities and countries - that is Germany today. Wolmar very clearly explains how each of these disparate political units had to work closely together to see an ROI on railroad investment.

Part two of the book (chapters 5-10) begins with a continent by continent review of how railways penetrated various nations and the problems involved, from "simple" cross-border coordination activities to massive topographical challenges (the Andes) that even today are staggering in their complexities and tragedies. The section on the attempt to drive a railway through the Amazon is particularly poignant. The last few chapters in part two highlight the many innovations - not only in trains and technology, but also architecture - that railroads led to.

The last third of the book (chapters 11-13) might seem to be a bit of a downer as they discuss the eclipsing of the railroad by planes and automobiles, but luckily, Wolmar ends with an intriguing set of trends pointing toward an already occurring resurgence in railroad travel and use. Certainly, since 9/11 in the US and the rise in gas prices, train travel has become far easier, cheaper, and more enjoyable than the whole airport to airport experience.

Wolmar's book also makes a very subtle, very strong case for the need for high speed trains in the US and Britain. Frankly, it was shameful reading about the progress made by Japan, Italy, Germany, France, and China. As perfect as high speed trains might be for up and down the US coasts, the current Acela is the bottom of the barrel compared to what other nations have been able to achieve even in the last ten years. The fact that I've never seen the Acela less than packed should be a clarion call for politicians and planners in the US.

All of this - and far, far more - Wolmar makes clear in his book. Blood, Iron and Gold is at the top of my non-fiction book list for 2010. It should be on yours as well.
7 internautes sur 8 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Interesting but sloppy Overview of RR History 21 juin 2010
Par Alan - Publié sur
This book is hard to summarize as its one of those good news/bad news books.

The Good News: It is full of information on the development of railroads throughout the world. Starting with George Stephenson and the early railroads to the split between the private industry vs. public development and how these differences had a major impact on how railroads developed to how railroads impacted society in general and daily life in particular. The author covers everything from the financial scandals to the issues of numerous gauge widths often in the same country and how these things evolved. It is hard to summarize what he has covered as it is so wide ranging.

The Bad News: As some others have noted there are a number of factual errors and odd even bazaar references. For example, he notes that the early plan for the development of the transcontinental railroad was Thomas Judah. However the man's name was Theodore Judah. He makes reference to James Hill and his Northern Pacific Railroad. However, Hill built the rival Great Northern. Strangely he has this correct elsewhere in the same chapter. He compares the RR building in South Africa to that in Panama, 2 countries that have totally different climates and vegetation. And most bazaar, in his explanation of the how private cars could be hired on the British system, he lists one of the users as Sherlock Holmes. Perhaps someone can tell the author that this is a fictional character.

There is more good news/bad news. On one hand, the book deals with most of the subjects in a very superficial way and is all over the map in more ways than one but covers a mind boggling amount of information. Covering 200 years of railroad history worldwide could easily have generated a book 3 times the size of this one. While this is hardly a definitive book on the subject, could use some better organization and suffers from numerous errors such as those noted above, this is a very readable and interesting book.
3 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Broad, informative treatment of rail history in a single volume 23 mai 2010
Par James A. Vedda - Publié sur
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
This engaging book is a valuable find for history buffs who have an interest in railroads but don't have time to explore the extensive literature on this topic. Wolmar takes the reader from the early 19th century to the present and explores the emergence and development of rail all across the world, and manages to do all this in just under 340 pages. (Notes, bibliography, and index add another 40 pages, and there are two sections of photo pages.)
The narrative focuses on the economic, political, and societal aspects of rail development in a wide variety of environments. Much less is said about the nuts and bolts of the trains, although there is substantial discussion of competing track gauges, efforts to overcome challenging geography, and the evolution of passenger accommodations as sophistication and competition increased. Along the way we meet innovative technical and business people, learn of the changes wrought by the railroads everywhere they went, and marvel at the amount of death and suffering experienced in the early construction and operation of rail systems.
Readers may find a couple of passages to be a bit slow as they describe numerous new lines coming into service from Point A to Point B, but a good knowledge of world geography makes these more interesting as they set the stage for the rest of the story. That story includes a sober look at decline in the 20th century as automobiles, trucks, and airlines came to dominate the transportation market. But the book ends on a positive note, projecting a railway renaissance of high-speed passenger trains and a strong freight business.
Highly recommended, especially for those who are new to railroad history or plan to read only a small amount on the subject.
2 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Railroads: a social history 6 août 2011
Par R. W. Levesque - Publié sur
Achat vérifié
As a life long rail fan I was particularly interested in this book to begin with because of what it is is not a technical history, or a book about railroad technology, or a straight forward narrative of railroads -- I have plenty of those. What sets this book apart is that it is ultimately about the impact railroads had on peoples and nations around the world.

Of course Wolmar begins with the creation of the first railroads in England, and then follows their construction around the world to include the rest of Europe, Latin American, the United States, Russia, and Africa. Besides discussing the challenges (economic, technical, and political) in their building, he looks at how they were financed, their relationship to their governments, and the impact both had one how and why the railroads were constructed. He also addresses the political, economic, and technical impact the railroads had on their respective countries, and, in Europe's case, how they ultimately linked Europe together. He finishes off the book by addressing the "renaissance" of railroads today, and how they continue to be important in the everyday life of regions and nations.

All-in-all this is an interesting, well written, and easy-to-read social history of railroads. If you like railroads, I recommend this as a change of pace from the usual techo-approach to the subject. If you're a social historian you'll be interested in the impact of railroads across a broad spectrum of economics, politics, and technology.
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