Railroaded: The Transcontinentals and the Making of Modern America (2020)

Railroaded: The Transcontinentals and the Making of Modern America Richard White Railroaded The Transcontinentals and the Making of Modern America The transcontinental railroads of the late nineteenth century were the first corporate behemoths Their attempts to generate profits from proliferating debt sparked devastating panics in the U S econom
  • Title: Railroaded: The Transcontinentals and the Making of Modern America
  • Author: Richard White
  • ISBN: 9780393061260
  • Page: 248
  • Format: Hardcover
Railroaded: The Transcontinentals and the Making of Modern America Richard White The transcontinental railroads of the late nineteenth century were the first corporate behemoths Their attempts to generate profits from proliferating debt sparked devastating panics in the U.S economy Their dependence on public largess drew them into the corridors of power, initiating new forms of corruption Their operations rearranged space and time, and remade the lThe transcontinental railroads of the late nineteenth century were the first corporate behemoths Their attempts to generate profits from proliferating debt sparked devastating panics in the U.S economy Their dependence on public largess drew them into the corridors of power, initiating new forms of corruption Their operations rearranged space and time, and remade the landscape of the West As wheel and rail, car and coal, they opened new worlds of work and ways of life Their discriminatory rates sparked broad opposition and a new antimonopoly politics.With characteristic originality, range, and authority, Richard White shows the transcontinentals to be pivotal actors in the making of modern America But the triumphal myths of the golden spike, robber barons larger than life, and an innovative capitalism all die here Instead we have a new vision of the Gilded Age, often darkly funny, that shows history to be rooted in failure as well as success.
Railroaded: The Transcontinentals and the Making of Modern America Richard White

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    Richard White

One thought on “Railroaded: The Transcontinentals and the Making of Modern America

  1. Matt

    Chances are, you ve been affected somehow, in some way, by the Great Recession I know I have I live in Omaha, which oddly enough, has suddenly become an extremely appealing place to be we are the most affordable city in the US our unemployment rate is half the national average and contrary to myth, we have never elected a head of cattle to the state legislature We ve certainly weathered the storm better than most I m looking enviously at you, North Dakota still, the cutbacks, belt tightening, an [...]

  2. Nann O"neill

    Admirable AND readable a clear eyed, deeply researched account with disturbing contemporary implications A fine example of intelligent, provocative history, and an unsparing anatomy of the American character If you find yourself arguing with the author, or thinking, I never knew that or That can t be true, the book is doing its job and .

  3. Michael

    Richard White questions the building of the transcontinentals and the men who headed these massive 19th century corporations Titans of the Gilded Age, the transcontinentals proved to be extremely efficient at being inefficient The railroad men prove to be rather lousy businessmen, and their corporations constantly need government assistance to bail them out of trouble Whether it is receivership, lack of demand, or labor strikes, the government was always there to help these failing enterprises W [...]

  4. Lauren Hiebner

    White s book is a detailed economic analysis of the post Civil War RR industry He explains how the RR conquered space, time, and nature but that it was a flawed system White identifies the depth of corruption that infested the RR industry from top to bottom While corruption was typical for the Gilded Age, White explains how bankers and politicians colluded in the business White explains how competition led to monopolies, how labor unions were crushed, and how the RR practices and collapse led to [...]

  5. Doug

    Some of the parts were dense and difficult to understand, but the overarching themes of the book are fascinating This book should be required reading for every presidential candidate because I would be very interested in hearing their opinion of the transcontinentals and for what should happen at the intersection of business and government True, they were the coveted New Economy companies for its time, and by opening the West for development, were undoubtedly Jobs Creators, but they also were Wa [...]

  6. Robin Friedman

    The Transcontinental Railroads And Creative DestructionOn May 10, 1869 at Promontory Summit, Utah, the lines of the Union Pacific and Central Pacific Railroads were symbolically linked together to celebrate the completion of the first transcontinental railroad An iconic photograph celebrates this event Once viewed as a seminal moment in the making of the United States and the West, the events at Promontory Summit and their aftermath receive a great deal of critical attention in Richard White s p [...]

  7. Geoff

    Outstanding book I love all of Whites work His redefinition of the captialists to the finaciers is great His use of the individual characters in samll chapters describing unique individual railroad people is intriguing His description of the railroads in Mexico and Canada is excellent The thesis that these early robber barons where NOT too bright is also very interesting, and I don t feel very sorry for Leland Stanford at all or his wife White describes the early GLO s manipulation very well, an [...]

  8. Harry Lane

    In some ways, an excellent reexamination of the burst of railroad construction that followed the Civil War The author thesis is that contrary to the common view of romance or heroic man against nature , the actual experience was one of failure and unintended consequences, mostly bad The relationship between government and business was remarkably similar to some of what we re seeing today But, in the end, I found the material repetitive, and the book is simply too long for the average reader I di [...]

  9. Christopher Mitchell

    An excellent look into the insiders of the Transcontinentals the men who gave us crony capitalism It helps to start with a basic understanding the of railroads of the late 1800 s before opening this book One cannot help but come away with the idea that the 20th century didn t happen The corrupt practices common in 1899 led right into 2000 The reforms of the 1900 s were killed in the 1900 s A long and dense read, but exactly what I was looking for.

  10. Chris Lindsay

    Very good read, it s amazing how such a major achievement the Transcontinental construction was completely fraught with fraud and corruption This event mirrors the recent bailouts and other similar things that came out of the recent economic recession I will be interviewing this author for my Critical Wit podcast.

  11. Donna Herrick

    A very important book to read The transcontinental railroad financiers set the model for how corporate capitalism would interact with our political system and with communities and with labor We are seeing those patterns continue with the off shoring of jobs and the financialization of our economy Now, if we could just figure out how to reign in corporations.

  12. James Eckman

    Seeing his talk at Stanford inspired me to read the book It s about how the rail barons bilked millions out of the US taxpayer and laid out useless railroads to nowhere The barons knew con, but didn t know or care about railroading.Kind of like 21st century Wall Street and banking A modern subject than you would think based on the historical aspects.

  13. George Kelley

    If I were rating this book based on content and useful research, I d give it a 7 out of 5 stars However, based on the delivery, which is pretty dry, I have to give it only 3 I think it is a very good book to read to get a feel for how corporations railroads have abused their privilege and access throughout American History.It s a very good book, it is just hard to get through.

  14. Tami

    This was a long book with lots of historical details that just got to be too much for me to actually finish the book I had heard this author in an interview on NPR and was intrigued by the topic I did learn a lot in the process of reading it but know it was written by a history professor who was really into tracking down minutiae about the early railroads and the men how ran them.

  15. Craigtator

    Great larger than life characters Government corruption Corporate fraud Dramatic strikes Economic catastrophes It s got it all If only it wasn t painfully dull I m not even sure how that s possible.

  16. Catherine Woodman

    I liked this well written book that chronicles the building of the Western railroads by men who were despicable greedy, immoral, stupid, and unleashed It went on a bit long as times, but very interesting makes you realize that maybe capitalism has some down sides.

  17. Tony Carter

    Tedious and repetitive Could have used a good editor Good information, but covers the same ground over and over Sheds a good deal of light on todays politics, unions and corporations.

  18. Joshua

    Richard White attempts to describe how Transcontinental railroads changed not only the physical landscape, but the business and political landscape of the United States, Canada, and Mexico White challenges popular views of the Robber Barons and The Octopus and instead of being the modern corporation that is lean and mean, he shows how ineffective many of the railroads were from an operational and investment standpoint Unfortunately, many of these aspects are lost in the way that the work is arra [...]

  19. Noah

    For the second time, I failed to make it through this book, which I really expected to love Two main problems 1 It s really hard to tell a compelling story when the action takes place in bond valuations and stock swaps and all that stuff Most people can t do it, though the great business journalists can White is one of the most people and it s just agonizing.2 White just palpably hates his subjects Everyone is dumb, no matter how much money they made Capitalism is just a series of failure after [...]

  20. Scharenjo

    I love the concept of this book It s a subject that fascinates me Unfortunately it s one of the least compelling books I have ever read Instead of not being able to wait to turn the page and learn , I found myself dreading the agony of reading this book I m not sure what I missed that makes this book so rave worthy Is it popular because people are afraid to say they didn t like a book about corruption because they don t want people to think they are corrupt This is only the third book I have not [...]

  21. Nicole

    Even if you don t agree with the thesis or with some of White s pithy assessments of specific people and situations, it s an excellent book for historians and aspiring historians to read because of its use of a wide range of types of evidence There s also an interesting discussion to be had about figurative language and authorial voice.

  22. Roger Rosenberg

    Very scholarly history of the financial corruption that built the railroads in the west and their impact Very little about the workers who built and maintained them Also an excellent conclusion and discussion of their impact It is different than most conclusions I have read before.

  23. Tim

    White writes with wit, built upon an ocean of research, about the transcontinental railroads I imagined the book would be like the last chapter, which ties up arguments and makes sweeping conclusions about the role of these railroads in late 19th century America and to today Instead, most of the chapters are chronological, following the events, and telling a compelling, if depressing, narrative White s conclusions are that the transcontinentals were built long before they were necessary, by indi [...]

  24. Bryan Alexander

    A fascinating, entertaining, and instructive work of history White revisits the grand expansion of American railroads west of the Mississippi, seeing them not as a heroic adventure, but as a complex set of mistakes, criminality, and costly innovation bloated, ill managed, heavily indebted, and corrupt 450 Railroaded dives deeply into the business history of railroads, which can be daunting for a newcomer to the field, like myself White dredges through a massive array of primary sources to bring [...]

  25. Marks54

    This book is a history of the transcontinental railroads those railroads that moved out from the limits of eastern and midwestern growth in the US in the 1860s and afterwards to establish a continental rail network that included Canada and Mexico as well as the US These railroads were different from earlier ones, in that they were built ahead of demand rather than in response to a need for enhanced infrastructure This made these roads inherently speculative ventures that required considerable go [...]

  26. Patrick

    I wrote a longer review, but went down for maintenance and I hadn t saved it Frustrating Basically, this book is very interesting and topical considering the financial scams and bailouts of the last few years, but it a little dry and the organization is hinky It jumps back and forth chronologically as it chronicles certain ideas and characters, and it was hard to keep all the various corrupt people straight.I had vaguely read of some scammy stuff with the golden Spike previously, but the transco [...]

  27. Kay

    For some reason I m really interested lately in the forces that have shaped American history, and when it comes to the 19th century, the transcontinental railroads come second only to the Civil War But this is not a glowing history of titans of industry overcoming adversity to build a great American institution Rather, this book is a critical look at one of the most horribly corrupt industries in this nation s history The heads of railroad corporations established many of the horrible patterns f [...]

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