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Publisher's Summary

Blood, Iron, and Gold reveals the huge impact of the railways as they spread rapidly across the world, linking cities that had hitherto been isolated, stimulating both economic growth and social change on an unprecedented scale. From Panama to the Punjab, Christian Wolmar describes the vision and determination of the pioneers who developed railways that would one day span continents, as well as the labour of the navvies who built this global network.
Wolmar shows how cultures were enriched – and destroyed – by the unrelenting construction and how they had a vital role in civil conflict, as well as in two world wars. Indeed, the global expansion of the railways was key to the spread of modernity and the making of the modern world.
©2009 Christian Wolmar (P)2010 Soundings
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Critic Reviews

"[A] fascinating study not just of a transportation system, but of the Promethean spirit of the modern age." (Publishers Weekly)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By David C Robinson on 05-31-15

Terrific Listen

A gripping and educational history of the growth of railroads worldwide and their future potential.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

2 out of 5 stars
By Andy on 04-10-10

a mile wide, an inch deep

The author opened the book explaining the limitations of what the book covered. He delivered 100% on the promised limitations. Wolmar provides a good survey of the development of railroads around the world, but too little detail on the specifics.

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2 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Mr. Adrian Mcmenamin on 12-23-12

Fascinating, but maybe too broad

This is a fascinating book and gives a real insight into the social and political impact of the railways, but maybe it suffers a little from being too broad and too fond of a travelogue style.

The author's claim that railways were the most important invention of the second millennium is possibly too great a reach - after all the railways came as a consequence of the industrial revolution - but he certainly makes a very strong case for their fundamental impact on all aspects of human society. It is just, through his desire to cover all the continents in a similar depth and to come right up to the present he misses an opportunity to give us a deeper perspective.

Well voiced and easy to listen to.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Lord Peridot on 11-09-17


The author does a wonderful job here of writing up the history of all the world's railways in a single volume. Thats a big undertaking and of course not every branch line in Patagonia is described in detail. But for non-Patagonians the coverage and selection of material seems admirable, remarkable even given its scope. Wolmar has a lively personal style done full justice by the reader, Tudor Barnes. Railways are a hugely important part of world history over the past two centuries and as the author reminds, rumours of their demise are certainly exaggerated. Picturesque and full of surprises, this is a great book for anyone who appreciates railways past & present.

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