Book review: Iron Rails, Iron Men, and the Race to Link the Nation: The Transcontinental Railroad, Martin W. Sandler

Sandler, Martin W. Iron Rails, Iron Men, and the Race to Link the Nation: The Transcontinental Railroad. Candlewick. 2015. $22.99. 210p. 978-0-7636-6527-2. Ages 13-15. P4Q8

Sandler Iron RailsPerhaps the greatest adventure of the 19th century in the United States was laying 1,800 miles of railroad track in hostile terrain from Omaha to San Francisco as two companies fought to win the race to the center. This engineering marvel allowed people to cross the country in one week instead of six months, uniting the coasts. Maps and archival photographs sometimes break up the dense text. The content shows how amazing the task was as the government continued to finance the six-year project despite the Civil War, employing veterans after the war. Discussions of the discrimination against the 10,000 Chinese workers, the encroachment against the Native Americans, and the greedy corruption of the companies’ leadership are included. The epilogue follows the key players in the narrative, and the timeline summarizes important events. Also included are source notes, index, and an extensive bibliography. Although the layout contains a great deal of white space, the text occasionally becomes burdensome to read.

October/November 2015 review by Nel Ward.

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