Review of the Week: Iron Rails, Iron Men

Iron Rails, Iron Men

Sandler, Martin W. Iron Rails, Iron Men, and the Race to Link the Nation: The Story of the Transcontinental Railroad. Non-fiction. Candlewick, 09/2015. 212p. $22.99. 978-0-7636-6527-2. OUTSTANDING. GRADES 7-12.

An expansive, dramatic photo-filled book design and an engaging, dynamic text combine to make this an essential book on the building of the Transcontinental Railroad in the U.S., which is also a popular topic in California history. Sandler begins with a chapter on the founding of the Central Pacific, which was started in Sacramento by Theodore Judah. Following chapters alternate between the Central Pacific and the Union Pacific, which began in Missouri and forged west to finally join in Utah. The narrative mirrors the momentum and speed needed by each company to surmount so many obstacles, and the author deftly describes the plight of the Chinese workers and the Native American groups that were displaced. The wealth of b&w photos, maps, sidebars, short biographies, and other embellishments both add information and break up the text. Back matter includes a timeline, index, source notes, and bibliography. Many libraries in Northern California may discover adult patrons checking out the book, due to local interest such as the Strobridge House in Castro Valley or fans of the AMC television series Hell on Wheels.

Penny Peck, San Jose State Univ, iSch

 

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