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The Old Iron Road: An Epic of Rails, Roads, and the Urge to Go West

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The Old Iron Road: An Epic of Rails, Roads, and the Urge to Go West Cover

ISBN13: 9780670033089
ISBN10: 0670033081
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

In the summer of 2000, David Haward Bain and his family left their home in Vermont and headed west in search of America's past. From Omaha to San Francisco, Bain and his family retraced the entire route of the first transcontinental railroad. Following abandoned railroad tracks and the traces of old wagon trails, cruising down back roads and main streets, they discovered the deep, restless, uniquely American spirit of adventure that connects our past to our present.

A superb writer and an exacting researcher, Bain conjures up the marvelous sense of coming unstuck in time as he lingers in the ghost towns and battlegrounds, prairies and river ports, train yards, museums, and diners that line the old emigrant routes of the railroad and the Lincoln Highway. As he cruises west to California, Bain encounters a fascinating cast of characters, both historic and contemporary — from Willa Cather to Marlon Brando, from pathfinder John Fremont to naturalist Terry Tempest Williams. Here, too, are memories of Bain's own grandparents and the journeys that shaped his own heritage.

Writing in the tradition of William Least Heat-Moon and Ian Frazier, yet with an engaging warmth and a deep grasp of history all his own, Bain has fashioned a quintessentially American journey.

Review:

"[Bain] elegantly broadens his scope here....[A]n intriguing guide....Bain bypasses a facile sentimentality for a more complex portrait of the American West." Publishers Weekly

Review:

"Bain offers useful footnotes to points raised by New Western historians such as Patricia Nelson Limerick and Richard White. Otherwise, not much more than a slide show for those who were there." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"A picaresque race across the country....In The Old Iron Road, the dead seem to rise up to greet him as he goes, and the living save their best stories for him....It is impossible to cross this country by land without being changed by the experience. The Old Iron Road captures this fact vividly, as in as many different forms as Bain can find room for in its pages." Verlyn Klinkenborg, The New York Times Book Review

Review:

"This is a very personal and warm account — no dry history here — of a journey of the heart that concludes on a poignant note. Anyone who loves history and appreciates the writing of William Least Heat-Moon, Jonathan Raban, Bruce Chatwin and John McPhee will want to add it to their collection." Chicago Tribune

Review:

"A richly interesting book of travel and history that also has the virtue of being a beautiful and original portrait of a family together definitely not going to Disneyland. Bain has produced an excellent and inspiring book." The Oregonian

Review:

"Highly recommended....Historic accounts of particular people and places along the way make for lively and interesting reading, along with Bain's entertaining descriptions of and reflections on modern events and sights." Library Journal

Review:

"One of the season's best." USA Today

Review:

"What a terrific read! The Old Iron Road is an elegant combination of riveting storytelling, modern travelogue and impeccable history....When literary awards are handed out at years' end, The Old Iron Road deserves a few." Douglas Brinkley, Professor of History at the University of New Orleans, and author of Tour of Duty, Wheels for the World, and The Majic Bus

Book News Annotation:

The past called to Bain, also the author of , through his grandmother, born in a covered wagon somewhere in Kansas in 1889. He took his family on a summer-long exploration of the West, tracing portions of emigrant routes between the Missouri River and the Golden Gate—parts of the Oregon, California, Mormon Pioneer, and Overland Trails; the Pony Express; and the railroad. It was a trip, he told his children, about the journey and not the destination; his account draws an impressionistic narrative line from the Indians, trapper, traders, explorers, engineers, and emigrants "to those who actually found what they were looking for and settled into the tiny, isolated pioneer communities that grew up, spread out, and transformed the West, confiscating one kind of life and implanting another."
Annotation 2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Synopsis:

From Omaha to San Francisco, Bain and his family retraced the entire route of the first transcontinental railroad and discovered the deep, restless, uniquely American spirit of adventure.

About the Author

David Haward Bain is the author of four previous works of nonfiction, including Empire Express and Sitting in Darkness, which received a Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Book Award. His articles and essays have appeared in Smithsonian, American Heritage, Kenyon Review, and Prairie Schooner, and he reviews regularly for The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post, and Newsday. He is a teacher at Middlebury College and the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference.

Table of Contents

PART I
1. The Odyssey Begins 3
2. Jumping Off 15
PART II
3. Rails and the River 27
4. The Lincoln Highway 43
5. The Road from Red Cloud 64
6. Hell on Wheels 89
7. The View from the Bluffs 117
PART III
8. Magic City 133
9. Road Tested on the Red Plains 154
10. Crossing the Divide 186
11. Green River to the Rim 211
PART IV
12. Through the Canyons to Paradise 231
PART V
13. Following the Humboldt 275
14. Silver State 298
PART VI
15. Over the Sierra 343
16. From Sacramento to the Sea 370
17. Golden Gate 385
Epilogue 397
References 399
Index 417

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

Howard Turner, February 15, 2010 (view all comments by Howard Turner)
David Bain writes in an easy, fluid style that makes you embrace this book like an old friend. He flips you back and forth between the present moment and a point in history, weaving tales about his own experience on the road while taking short trips into history. He does this without injecting ego or opinion into most of the text, allowing the reader to draw his own conclusions about the events. Unlike some authors who insist on hitting you over the head with their view of the world, he makes you a passenger in the journey, treating you more like an old friend who he has trusted as his navigator. I would recommend reading the book titled " Nothing Like it in the World" by Stephen Ambrose before you read this book. David Bain published his work on the building of the transcontinental railroad( Empire Express) one year before Ambrose. I suggest the Ambrose read as it will give you an introduction into the subject from another view and will allow you to better appreciate the story as told by David Bain.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780670033089
Subtitle:
An Epic of Rails, Roads, and the Urge to Go West
Author:
Bain, David Haward
Publisher:
Penguin Books
Location:
New York
Subject:
Essays & Travelogues
Subject:
Railroads
Subject:
Railroads - History
Subject:
West
Subject:
United States - State & Local - West
Subject:
General History
Subject:
United States - General
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Paperback / softback
Series Volume:
12
Publication Date:
May 11, 2004
Binding:
Paperback
Grade Level:
from 12
Language:
English
Illustrations:
16-page b/w photo insert; try to include
Pages:
448
Dimensions:
9.30x6.56x1.47 in. 1.75 lbs.
Age Level:
from 18

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Related Subjects

Transportation » Railroads » General
Transportation » Railroads » North America

The Old Iron Road: An Epic of Rails, Roads, and the Urge to Go West Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$10.95 In Stock
Product details 448 pages Viking Books - English 9780670033089 Reviews:
"Review" by , "[Bain] elegantly broadens his scope here....[A]n intriguing guide....Bain bypasses a facile sentimentality for a more complex portrait of the American West."
"Review" by , "Bain offers useful footnotes to points raised by New Western historians such as Patricia Nelson Limerick and Richard White. Otherwise, not much more than a slide show for those who were there."
"Review" by , "A picaresque race across the country....In The Old Iron Road, the dead seem to rise up to greet him as he goes, and the living save their best stories for him....It is impossible to cross this country by land without being changed by the experience. The Old Iron Road captures this fact vividly, as in as many different forms as Bain can find room for in its pages."
"Review" by , "This is a very personal and warm account — no dry history here — of a journey of the heart that concludes on a poignant note. Anyone who loves history and appreciates the writing of William Least Heat-Moon, Jonathan Raban, Bruce Chatwin and John McPhee will want to add it to their collection."
"Review" by , "A richly interesting book of travel and history that also has the virtue of being a beautiful and original portrait of a family together definitely not going to Disneyland. Bain has produced an excellent and inspiring book."
"Review" by , "Highly recommended....Historic accounts of particular people and places along the way make for lively and interesting reading, along with Bain's entertaining descriptions of and reflections on modern events and sights."
"Review" by , "One of the season's best."
"Review" by , "What a terrific read! The Old Iron Road is an elegant combination of riveting storytelling, modern travelogue and impeccable history....When literary awards are handed out at years' end, The Old Iron Road deserves a few." Douglas Brinkley, Professor of History at the University of New Orleans, and author of Tour of Duty, Wheels for the World, and The Majic Bus
"Synopsis" by , From Omaha to San Francisco, Bain and his family retraced the entire route of the first transcontinental railroad and discovered the deep, restless, uniquely American spirit of adventure.
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