Nothing Like It in the World

  • by Stephen E. Ambrose
  • Narrated by Jeffrey DeMunn
  • 15 hrs and 37 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Nothing Like It in the World is the story of the men who built the transcontinental railroad. In Ambrose's hands, this enterprise 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. As its peak the work force approached the size of Civil War armies, with as many as 15,000 workers on each line. The surveyors, the men who picked the route, lived off buffalo, deer, and antelope.
In building a railroad, there is only one decisive spot - the end of the track. Nothing like this great work had ever been seen in the world when the last spike - a golden one - was driven in Promontory Peak, Utah, in 1869, as the Central Pacific and 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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What the Critics Say

"... telling of the railroad's physical construction will be a sure winner with the author's legions of readers." (Booklist)
"... bears the reader on shoulders of wonder and excitement." (The New York Times)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Good Book, Poor Narration and Audio Quality

The book is good if you are interested in history, which I am. The building of the transcontinental railroad is described in detail. The problem is the narration and sound quality. The narrator speaks softly -- barely above a whisper -- and with very little energy. He does, however, speak naturally, which is a plus. His quiet delivery is made worse by the uneven audio quality. You have to turn the volume way up to hear him, and there is a noticeable hiss which can be maddening. The delivery does not do justice to an otherwise fine book.
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- A. Millard

I really wanted to like this book.

First of all, I think there was a change of narrators at some point, because my version was superb, while the narration offered in the sample on this page was as terrible as many earlier reviewers suggest. So, for the record, the narrator problem appears to have been fixed.

Unfortunately, the basic flaws of story telling remain problematic. I've read many works by Ambrose and have adored them all. This book fell flat for me. Thud. Just when it seemed about to get interesting, it diverged into a morass of not-so-consequential tangents that were hard to endure.
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- Judd Bagley

Book Details

  • Release Date: 09-08-2000
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio