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I have to disagree to most of the negative reviews from other readers that have posted on The Great Bridge. David McCullough is a historian and not a novelist. He does not write stories with happy endings with complex plots. McCullough writes American history with proven facts.
That being said, The Great Bridge is an awesome story about our engineering, infrastructure, corruption, and American pride. The book is very interesting because it really happened and the Brooklyn Bridge is still standing after 129 years.
Even Hollywood takes tribute to the Brooklyn Bridge in movies. As the world freezes, or aliens conquer the planet, the bridge still stands as a symbol of pride.
I really hope that David McCullough will write on the Hoover Dam next. There are other authors that covered this topic, but I can only imagine that they are not complete.
30 of 30 people found this review helpful
I have already listened to "Truman", "The Wright Brothers", and "The Johnstown Flood". Obviously, I am a McCullough fan. Listening to a story written by him is like sitting down with a wise old man, (I imagine my own Grandfather), saying: "Sit down with me for a while, and I'm going to tell you a story so incredible, you won't believe it's real". This is certainly true of "The Great Bridge". Who knew that the story of a bridge being built could be so fascinating? McCullough's great strength, I believe, is his ability to paint a striking portrait of people and their unique time. This book will teleport you to Brooklyn in the 1870's. The descriptions of the people, places, and events provide a striking image of America at that time, and the audacity of the people involved in such a monumental undertaking. This text provides fascinating insight into Gilded Age politics, engineering know-how, and raw human emotion; both dazzling, and painful.
Although the engineering behind the bridge is expressed in layman's terms, I found myself on Google, looking at pictures from the period and technical drawings of "the great caisson"; the engineering masterpiece that is the foundation of the bridge. This is a complex piece of structural engineering that is difficult to understand without a visual. Nevertheless, drawings are readily available online, and I recommend a listener pause the story and look at those to get a better sense of how it all comes together. It is incredible to think that work began on the bridge in 1869, and that it's foundations are so strong that it has required virtually no maintenance since then. It's unbelievable to think that the people working on the bridge could never imagine that it would someday be used by automobiles, yet it is so well built, that only minimal changes had to be made to it when it was converted from trolley use to car use. The world of 1869 is so different from ours, yet the bridge remains relatively unchanged, and will likely remain so. That is its genius, and that is what makes it a monument to American ingenuity and imagination. To listen to this book is to truly understand the scale of such an undertaking--and the obsession of one man (Washington A. Roebling)--in its creation.
A word on the narrator:
Nelson Runger reads most of McCullough's works available on Audible. I first heard him read for "Truman". Since then, I associate his voice with that of Truman's own, and to some extent, with that of McCullough himself, even though the author does narrate "The Wright Brothers", such that I know McCullough's real voice. I find Runger to be a good match for such a long listen. his voice is expressive, and he can mimic the accent of the period (1869-1926) which is slightly different from our own. Now that McCullough is getting older, his own voice is quite rough, whereas Runger's is smooth and provides emphasis where needed. He pauses when appropriate, and shifts his inflection when reading for different characters. Although a text like this does not require such radical inflection shifts as does a work of fiction with lots of dialogue and many characters, I think you will find Runger an engaging listen.
I highly recommend this text.
20 of 20 people found this review helpful
An essential optimistic can do account of prototypical American can do attitude. Perhaps 20% too long winded, but still leaves the reader witj respecy for the acheibements of Toebæing sbd his associates
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
A magnificent and epic work, beautifully narrated.
David McCullough's canvas extends much wider than the building of the iconic bridge, although that in itself is a fascinating story.
Equally if not more fascinating are the characters of John A. Roebling and his son Washington who respectively conceived and built it, and the colourful supporting cast whom they encountered along the way.