The Race Underground

  • by Doug Most
  • Narrated by John H. Mayer
  • 15 hrs and 26 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

In the late nineteenth century, as cities like Boston and New York grew larger, the streets became increasingly clogged with horse-drawn carts. When the great blizzard of 1888 brought New York City to a halt, a solution had to be found. Two brothers - Henry Melville Whitney of Boston and William Collins Whitney of New York City - pursued the dream of his city being the first American metropolis to have a subway and the great race was on. The competition between Boston and New York was played out in an era not unlike our own, one of economic upheaval, job losses, bitter political tensions, and the question of America's place in the world.
The Race Underground is peopled with the famous, like Boss Tweed, and Thomas Edison, and the not-so-famous, like the countless "sandhogs" who dug and blasted into the earth's crust, sometimes losing their lives in the process of building the subway's tunnels. Doug Most chronicles the science of the subway, looks at fears people had about travelling underground and tells a story as exciting as any ever ripped from the pages of U.S. history. The Race Underground is a great American saga of two rival American cities, the powerful interests within, and an invention that changed the lives of millions.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

interesting journey

Terrific story about how the dots got connected that led to modern subway systems. Full of colorful personalities and technological developments that paved the way to replace the horse (and tons of daily horse poop) that it took to move people about the city.
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- Andy

Informative Cobbled Telling of an Important Story

This is a wonderful telling of the building of America's first subway. Much history and historical context is provided. The general reader will find much here to admire and enjoy. Chronologically, Doug Most links a number of disparate characters, technological developments, and anecdotes to flesh out his reporting of this technological innovation.

I was a little disappointed that there was so little written about "how" the actual subway was excavated and installed. That is a minor flaw, however, because most was accomplished by hand and animal muscle power. I would have enjoyed knowing more about the experiences of those doing the real labor; and the day-to-day working conditions. There is probably no record available. This minor disappointment is no reason to avoid this book.
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- Lynn

Book Details

  • Release Date: 02-04-2014
  • Publisher: Random House Audio