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Iron Rails, Iron Men, and the Race to Link the Nation: The Story of the Transcontinental Railroad    by Martin Sandler order for
Iron Rails, Iron Men, and the Race to Link the Nation
by Martin Sandler
Order:  USA  Can
Candlewick, 2015 (2015)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

There have been many books written about the construction of the transcontinental railroad. This latest one, Iron Rails, Iron Men, and the Race to Link the Nation: The Story of the Transcontinental Railroad by Martin Sandler, is aimed at young readers ten years of age and up, but adults will find it an entertaining and informative read as well.

Lavishly illustrated with vintage photos, the book not only gives an account of the race that the Union Pacific and Central Pacific rail companies engaged in to construct the 1,800 miles of track, but it also introduces the men behind the incredible feat.

The reader will meet some of the key personalities who made the railroad a reality. These individuals include Theodore Judah, Grenville Dodge, Charles Crocker, James Strobridge, Leland Stanford, Thomas Durant, Collis Huntington, Lewis Clement and Jack Casement.

While laying the rails westward across the plains was a challenge, it didn't come close to the engineering problems that faced the engineers and workers forcing the tracks through the mountains on a right-of-way that went east from Sacramento through the Sierra Nevada Range.

The chapters devoted to the impossible task of creating bridges, tunnels and snow sheds are truly amazing and capture the sacrifice and courage of thousands of workers (mostly Chinese laborers) who accomplished this engineering marvel.

As the story of the race between the two companies constructing the railroad unfolds, the reader will also discover fascinating sidebars on locomotives, Buffalo Bill, the railroad and the Civil War, the founding of Reno, and the construction of the telegraphy lines that accompanied the tracks.

There is enough detail in this volume to give the reader a good sense of the many challenges that made the transcontinental railroad such a remarkable undertaking. This is not just a picture book; this well researched and written book will provide an excellent overview of an important event in American and western history.

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