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



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...


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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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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