This intriguing look at a railroad expansion should appeal to train aficionados and history buffs.

SMOKE, SOOT, AND STEAM

GALT’S RAILROAD HISTORY 1869-1960

A debut history book details the enormous impact of the Central Pacific Railroad Company on a California town.

Before the arrival of the transcontinental railroad in 1869, Greer tells readers, “California was almost completely cut off from the east coast.…There was no economy to speak of…and very little agriculture.” The railroad’s arrival in Galt kick-started an economic boom that lasted for decades. By selling and leasing “cheap land to farmers and merchants along…their extensive rights-of-way,” the railroad made it possible for businesses to get their products to high-density population centers, such as Sacramento and San Francisco, and eventually across the country to the East Coast. The author notes that Galt became the home of two iconic brands: the Diamond Match Lumber Company and the Utah Condensed Milk Company, aka Sego Milk (eventually, the Pet Milk Products Company). The railroad also brought a revolution in communications when Western Union “strung its…lines from east to west” along the railroad’s “right-of-way.” Greer’s interviews with locals who were children in the early 20th century, circa the 1920s and ’30s, provide vivid glimpses of the era. Louise Loll Dowdell was 5 years old when she took her first train trip with her mother “from the Herald Stop all the way to Peltier Road to see” her aunt. The cost? Ten cents. She remembered her father telling the story of taking the electric train to Stockton to get his new car: “He didn’t know how to make it stop and ran into a tree stump.” Eugenia Olson recalled taking the “overnight ‘Owl,’ ” sleeping “in starched white sheets,” and eating in the dining car “with waiters, white tablecloths, silver service and a bouquet of flowers on the table.” While the writing is plainspoken, readers may find themselves skimming over the minutiae of railroad line growth in Galt: “On the east from ‘B’ Street north, there were three lighter rail sidings…there was a heavy rail passing track on the far west side.” Regardless, there are plenty of captivating nuggets of information here as well as an extensive bibliography and many historical photographs.

This intriguing look at a railroad expansion should appeal to train aficionados and history buffs.

Pub Date: July 11, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-72831-501-0

Page Count: 144

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: April 9, 2020

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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Another amiable book that is just what you’d expect from Willie.

WILLIE NELSON'S LETTERS TO AMERICA

An epistolary grab bag of memories, lyrics, jokes, and homespun philosophy from the legendary musician.

As an indefatigable touring artist, Nelson (b. 1933) has had a lot of time on his hands during the pandemic. Following his collaboration with his sister, Me and Sister Bobbie, the road warrior offers a loose collection of lessons from a full life. If you’ve never read a book by or about Nelson, this one—characteristically conversational, inspirational, wise, funny, and meandering—is a good place to start. The book is filled with lyrics to many of his best-known songs, most of which he wrote but others that he has made his own as well. For those steeped in The Tao of Willie (2006), some of the stories will be as familiar as the songs—e.g., the origin story of his nicknames, including Booger Red and Shotgun Willie; his time as a DJ and a door-to-door Bible and encyclopedia salesman; early struggles in Nashville with “all the record executives who only see music as a bottom-line endeavor”; and return to his home state of Texas. Many of the personal stories about family and friends can be found in Me and Sister Bobbie, but they are good stories from a rich life, one of abundance for which Nelson remains profoundly grateful. So he gives thanks in the form of letters: to Texas, America, God, golf, and marijuana; the audiences who have supported him and the band that has had his back; those who have played any part in Farm Aid or his annual Fourth of July concert bashes; and departed friends and deceased heroes, one of whom, Will Rogers, answers him back. Nelson even addresses one to Covid-19, which looms over this book, making the author itchy and antsy. Even at 87, he can’t wait to be on the road again.

Another amiable book that is just what you’d expect from Willie.

Pub Date: June 29, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7852-4154-6

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Harper Horizon

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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