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Nothing Like It In the World: The Men Who Built the Transcontinental Railroad 1863-1869
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Simon & Schuster 2000
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Description

In this account of an unprecedented feat of engineering, vision, and courage, Stephen E. Ambrose offers a historical successor to his universally acclaimed Undaunted Courage, which recounted the explorations of the West by Lewis and Clark. Nothing Like It in the World 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.The Union had won the Civil War and slavery had been abolished, but Abraham Lincoln, who was an early and constant champion of railroads, would not live to see the great achievement. In Ambrose's hands, this enterprise, with its huge expenditure of brainpower, muscle, and sweat, comes to life.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. Locomo-tives, 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. This was the last great building project to be done mostly by hand: excavating dirt, cutting through ridges, filling gorges, blasting tunnels through mountains.At its peak, the workforce — primarily Chinese on the Central Pacific, Irish on the Union Pacific — approached the size of Civil War armies, with as many as fifteen thousand workers on each line. The Union Pacific was led by Thomas "Doc" Durant, Oakes Ames, and Oliver Ames, with Grenville Dodge — America's greatest railroad builder — as chief engineer. The Central Pacific was led by California's "Big Four": Leland Stanford, Collis Huntington, Charles Crocker, and Mark Hopkins. The surveyors, the men who picked the route, were latter-day Lewis and Clark types who led the way through the wilderness, living off buffalo, deer, elk, and antelope.In building a railroad, there is only one decisive spot — the end of the track. Nothing like this great work had been seen in the world when the last spike, a golden one, was driven in at Promontory Summit, Utah, in 1869, as the Central Pacific and the Union Pacific tracks were joined.Ambrose writes with power and eloquence about the brave men — the famous and the unheralded, ordinary men doing the extraordinary — who accomplished the spectacular feat that made the continent into a nation.

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Street Date:
08/29/2000
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780743210836
ASIN:
B000FC0SF0
Accelerated Reader:
UG
Level 8.5, 28 Points
Citations
APA Citation (style guide)

Stephen E. Ambrose. (2000). Nothing Like It In the World: The Men Who Built the Transcontinental Railroad 1863-1869. Simon & Schuster.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Stephen E. Ambrose. 2000. Nothing Like It In the World: The Men Who Built the Transcontinental Railroad 1863-1869. Simon & Schuster.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Stephen E. Ambrose, Nothing Like It In the World: The Men Who Built the Transcontinental Railroad 1863-1869. Simon & Schuster, 2000.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Stephen E. Ambrose. Nothing Like It In the World: The Men Who Built the Transcontinental Railroad 1863-1869. Simon & Schuster, 2000. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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      • bioText: Dr. Stephen E. Ambrose was a renowned historian and acclaimed author of more than thirty books. Among his New York Times bestsellers are Nothing Like It in the World, Citizen Soldiers, Band of Brothers, D-Day - June 6, 1944, and Undaunted Courage. Dr. Ambrose was a retired Boyd Professor of History at the University of New Orleans and a contributing editor for the Quarterly Journal of Military History.
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Nothing Like It In the World
fullDescription

In this account of an unprecedented feat of engineering, vision, and courage, Stephen E. Ambrose offers a historical successor to his universally acclaimed Undaunted Courage, which recounted the explorations of the West by Lewis and Clark.
Nothing Like It in the World 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.
The Union had won the Civil War and slavery had been abolished, but Abraham Lincoln, who was an early and constant champion of railroads, would not live to see the great achievement. In Ambrose's hands, this enterprise, with its huge expenditure of brainpower, muscle, and sweat, comes to life.
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. Locomo-tives, 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. This was the last great building project to be done mostly by hand: excavating dirt, cutting through ridges, filling gorges, blasting tunnels through mountains.
At its peak, the workforce — primarily Chinese on the Central Pacific, Irish on the Union Pacific — approached the size of Civil War armies, with as many as fifteen thousand workers on each line. The Union Pacific was led by Thomas "Doc" Durant, Oakes Ames, and Oliver Ames, with Grenville Dodge — America's greatest railroad builder — as chief engineer. The Central Pacific was led by California's "Big Four": Leland Stanford, Collis Huntington, Charles Crocker, and Mark Hopkins. The surveyors, the men who picked the route, were latter-day Lewis and Clark types who led the way through the wilderness, living off buffalo, deer, elk, and antelope.
In building a railroad, there is only one decisive spot — the end of the track. Nothing like this great work had been seen in the world when the last spike, a golden one, was driven in at Promontory Summit, Utah, in 1869, as the Central Pacific and the Union Pacific tracks were joined.
Ambrose writes with power and eloquence about the brave men — the famous and the unheralded, ordinary men doing the extraordinary — who accomplished the spectacular feat that made the continent into a nation.

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      • premium: False
      • source: Henry KisorThe New York Times Book Review
      • content: Richly readable...[Stephen Ambrose] bears the reader on shoulders of wonder and excitement.
      • premium: False
      • source: Conn NugentNew York Post
      • content: Climb aboard...this lively tale, a colorful, edifying story of U.S. history....Ambrose is the bard of American accomplishment.
      • premium: False
      • source: Bob MinzesheimerUSA Today
      • content: Historian Stephen Ambrose has done it again....Ambrose should be read as much for his muscular prose and talent to get at the heart of the matter as for his research.
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        July 31, 2000
        On May 10, 1869, telegraphers sent the word done from Promontory Point, Utah, throughout the nation, signaling the completion of what Walt Whitman referred to as "the road between Europe and Asia." The transcontinental railroad, which connected the vast American territories, cut the trip from New York City to San Francisco from many months to seven days. Ambrose's (Undaunted Courage) epic account, diligently and powerfully read by DeMunn, details the incredible mobilization of manpower and financing that was "the very embodiment of system." He tells it all with verve: the financial finagling, the impulse to simplify by "exterminating" Native Americans, the backbreaking work and the fierce competition between railroad companies that fueled the effort. This gritty, momentous tale of the personalities that pressed across the wild American West with rail and tie celebrates the feat that brought the U.S. into the modern age. Simultaneous release with the S&S hardcover and trade paperback. (Forecasts, July 3). (Aug.)n

      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        August 28, 2000
        Eminent historian Ambrose notes that he once viewed the investors and businessmen who built the transcontinental railroad as robber barons who bilked the government and the public. But in his rough-and-tumble, triumphant saga--sure to appeal to the many readers of Ambrose's bestseller Undaunted Courage--he presents the continent-straddling railroad, yoking east and west at Promontory Point, Utah, in 1869, as a great democratic experiment, a triumph of capitalist organization, free labor, brains and determination that ushered in the American Century, galvanized trade and settlement, and made possible a national culture. To critics who charge that the railroad magnates were corrupt and grew obscenely rich and powerful through land grants and government bonds, Ambrose replies that the land grants never brought in enough money to pay the bills and, further, that the bonds were loans, fully paid back with huge interest payments. But this argument fails to convince, partly because Ambrose does a superlative job of re-creating the grim conditions in which the tracks were laid. The Central Pacific's workers were primarily Chinese, earning a dollar a day. Union Pacific workers were mostly Irish-American, young, unmarried ex-soldiers from both the Union and the Confederacy. Accidental deaths were commonplace, and the two companies, notwithstanding strikes, slowdowns and drunken vice, engaged in a frantic race, mandated by Congress, as the winner got the greater share of land and bonds. As a result of the haste, an enormous amount of shoddy construction had to be replaced. Native Americans, who wanted the iron rail out of their country, hopelessly waged guerrilla warfare against railroad builders who talked openly of exterminating them. Drawing on diaries, memoirs, letters, telegrams, newspaper accounts and other primary sources, Ambrose celebrates the railroad's unsung heroes--the men who actually did the backbreaking work. 32 pages of b&w photos. 6-city author tour.

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In this account of an unprecedented feat of engineering, vision, and courage, Stephen E. Ambrose offers a historical successor to his universally acclaimed Undaunted Courage, which recounted the explorations of the West by Lewis and Clark.
Nothing Like It in the World 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.
The Union had won the Civil War and slavery had been abolished, but Abraham Lincoln, who was an early and constant champion of railroads, would not live to see the great achievement. In Ambrose's hands, this enterprise, with its huge expenditure of brainpower, muscle, and sweat, comes to life.

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The Men Who Built the Transcontinental Railroad 1863-1869
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tableOfContents

Contents

Introduction

ONE Picking the Route 1830­1860

TWO Getting to California 1848­1859

THREE The Birth of the Central Pacific 1860­1862

FOUR The Birth of the Union Pacific 1862­1864

FIVE Judah and the Elephant 1862­1864

SIX Laying Out the Union Pacific Line 1864­1865

SEVEN The Central Pacific Attacks the Sierra Nevada 1865

EIGHT The Union Pacific Across Nebraska 1866

NINE The Central Pacific Assaults the Sierra 1866

TEN The Union Pacific to the Rocky Mountains 1867

ELEVEN The Central Pacific Penetrates the Summit 1867

TWELVE The Union Pacific Across Wyoming 1868

THIRTEEN Brigham Young and the MormonsMake the Grade 1868

FOURTEEN The Central Pacific Goes Through Nevada 1868

FIFTEEN The Railroads Race into Utah January 1­April 10, 1869

SIXTEEN To the Summit April 11­May 7, 1869

SEVENTEEN Done May 8­10, 1869

Epilogue

Notes

Bibliography

Index

Maps

From Chicago to Omaha

Nebraska

Wyoming

Nevada

Utah

California