Despite the overclaim of the subtitle, this is only a partial biography of the man and only the beginning history of the railroad. His story ends after he finished supervising the construction of the Union Pacific, although he did plenty after that and lived to a ripe old age. We pick him up as young ""Gren"" at the point when he fell in love with some surveying equipment and his articulate response to this outdid his performance on the day he met the girl he finally married. On that occasion he went speechless. Throughout the years he was learning an engineer's trade and preparing for the Union Pacific Job, years that cover the Civil War, the author reports that his heart went heavy as lead, his-blood raced, his spine tingled and words echoed in his ears. Since these symptoms arise at various points instead of all at once, it would not be fair to diagnose him as a classic victim of magic hypertension -- just another case of stereotype in cliche. Indians watching him work with his spy-glass are said to have dubbed him ""Long Eye,"" but this is a foreshortened, fictionalized life of a figure few people are likely to follow up on ever again. Neither the engineering details or the man's unquestioned genius in handling one of the toughest labor crews ever assembled comes across at anything approaching full value.