Nothing Like It in the World; The Men Who Built the Transcontinental Railroad 1865-1869
New York: Simon & Schuster, 2000. Fourth Printing. Hardcover. 431,  pages. Endpaper map. Maps. Notes. Bibliography. Index. Ex-library condition (usual library markings). DJ is a plastic sleeve, taped around boards. Stephen Edward Ambrose (January 10, 1936 – October 13, 2002) was an American historian and biographer of U.S. Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower and Richard Nixon. He was a longtime professor of history at the University of New Orleans and the author of many bestselling volumes of American history. In a review of To America: Personal Reflections of an Historian for the New York Times, William Everdell credited the historian with reaching "an important lay audience without endorsing its every prejudice or sacrificing the profession's standards of scholarship." Ambrose was a history professor from 1960 until his retirement in 1995. From 1971 onward, he was on the faculty of the University of New Orleans, where he was named the Boyd Professor of History in 1989, an honor given only to faculty who attain "national or international distinction for outstanding teaching, research, or other creative achievement". Early in his career, Ambrose was mentored by World War II historian Forrest Pogue. This book 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 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.
Nothing Like It In the World is a narrative history of the planning and construction of the Pacific Railroad during the 1860s which connected the San Francisco Bay and Council Bluffs, Iowa by rail. When published in the late summer of 2000, Nothing Like It in the World was, like many of Ambrose's previous books, an immediate commercial success and quickly reached the "Number 1" position on the New York Times Best Seller List (Non-Fiction) on September 17, 2000. Although Ambrose was a retired University history professor, the book was aimed at a large general interest audience.
Derived from a Kirkus review: Acclaimed historian Ambrose takes on one of the biggest and most influential engineering projects in American history—the building of the transcontinental railroad. Ambrose begins his tale with the fascinating "bureaucratic" history of the railroad—the struggles to gain a federal mandate for the construction of the road and to fix starting points for it at a time when there was little going on in Washington except, first, the precursors to the Civil War and, later, the war itself. Lincoln, Grant, and Sherman are all shown to be "railroad men" and influential to the project. Ambrose then moves on to immense fiscal maneuvers necessary to finance the railroad, and to the ensuing Credit Mobilier scandal (regarding the financing of the railroad, and of the fortunes that were made, Ambrose makes a salient point when quoting historian Charles Francis Adams Jr., who claimed that "when the Pacific Railroad was proposed, [no one] regarded it as other than a wild-cat venture . . . those men went into the enterprise because the country wanted a transcontinental railroad, and was willing to give almost any sum to those who would build it"). It is when the human drama of the actual construction of the railroad begins that Ambrose's narrative soars. Although not many first hand accounts exist from railroad workers, what material he does have is woven skillfully into the whole to create a picture of various ethnic groups working together (and frequently warring with each other as well). A master historian and writer takes on another pivotal epoch in American history. Condition: Good / Good.
Keywords: Union Pacific, Leland Stanford, Locomotive, Mark Hopkins, Transportation, Railroads, Thomas Durant, Transcontinental, Railways, Sierra Nevada, Central Pacific, John Casement, Chinese Workers, Charles Crocker, Grenville Dodge, Collis Huntington, Theod