Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Rival Rails: The Race to Build America's Greatest Transcontinental Railroad” as Want to Read:
Rival Rails: The Race to Build America's Greatest Transcontinental Railroad
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Rival Rails: The Race to Build America's Greatest Transcontinental Railroad

3.33 of 5 stars 3.33  ·  rating details  ·  82 ratings  ·  15 reviews
From acclaimed historian Walter R. Borneman comes a dazzling account of the battle to build America’s transcontinental rail lines. Rival Rails is an action-packed epic of how an empire was born—and the remarkable men who made it happen.

After the completion of the first transcontinental railroad in 1869, the rest of the country was up for grabs, and the race was on. The pri
...more
Hardcover, 432 pages
Published September 28th 2010 by Random House (first published September 22nd 2010)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Rival Rails, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Rival Rails

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 301)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Jim Gallen
“Rival Rails” tells the story of the intense corporate competition to knit the west together into a web of rails. Author Walter Borneman takes us on the ride from the political and engineering maneuvers to pick the most advantageous routes through the building challenges, the financial scandals, wartime disruptions and Twenty-first Century revivals. Readers race through the fabled names of the past: Colis P. Huntington, Charles Crocker, Jay Gould and Fred Harvey, Central Pacific, Union Pacific, ...more
Nicole Marble
There are people who say government should not interfere, should stay out of the way. Well, this book tells the story of how the U.S. government, taxpayers, surveyed various routes for railroads. And then gave land to railroad companies to compensate them for building those rail roads. Which is as clear an example of government creating wealth as ever was.
Jennifer
Kind of as an aside, does anyone know of any railroad histories that include women and minorities? I ask this because, as entertaining as this book was at times, it focused almost entirely on the men who ran things. And I'm even more interested in the boots-on-the-ground aspect of history.

As Borneman points out, though, most accounts of the history of railroad-building in the U.S. focus on the first big push to run a transcontinental railroad, and stop after that. The wheeling-and-dealing afterw
...more
Ian
Sadly, Rival Rails was a disappointment. It's immaculately researched and well presented, but the pacing is anything but consistent, and the sheer amount of information is both enough to overwhelm you at first, and leave you wishing for more at the end. At first, you're overloaded with information, on different comany names, dates, their movers and shakers, and so on, and by the end entire decades seem to be skipped over in short order as though rushing to tell everything in. And how does he com ...more
Loren
Very comprehensive history of railroads and their role in the settlement of the southwestern US. I found it interesting as a resident of the region, in understanding how many of the cities and settlements in the region came to be. While railroad enthusiasts and people interested in the history of the southwest will probably be most interested in the book, it's also fascinating to see the disproportionate power wielded by the railroads in the 19th century, and how it shaped local and federal poli ...more
Adam Carman
A little dense with all the comings and doings of different railroads but some interesting facts about railroads' power--for instance, in the 1870s a whole town was moved because the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe had it on their map four miles from its actual location!! Train afficionados will find its detail about the first truly transcontinental railroad fascinating.
John
The maps are small and all too often the key part is hidng in the centre crease, and the photos have almost all been published elsewhere better. Still, I give this book full marks for readability and making a difficult subject entertaining and understandable. I am a hard core railway enthusiast but you don't need to be to enjoy this book.
Tom
As the cliche says: "I want the time back I spent on this...." Hackneyed, disjointed and pedantic to the degree you'd like to put your head down on the rail and wait for the Special, this turns a fascinating story into a pile of details and disconnections. Do you get the feeling I was disappointed?
Jim
This felt very inaccessible to someone who doesn't have the train obsession. Yes, trains are cool, but this seemed like something for someone who's truly obsessed with the subject. But I don't regret reading this because now, I'm completely fascinated by the story of Nellie Bly.
Chris Aylott
There are some interesting tidbits in this history of how the railroads of the West were won, but there are too many names and dates and not enough economics, scenery, or personality. Not bad, but just okay.
Dogfood411
There was so much detail, I would often get lost in what railroad owned what or was going where. I needed to have paid more attention.
David Nusinow
I'm not really a railroad person, and I think someone who's more into their history would have enjoyed this book more.
Ed
Terrific well-documented stories with very helpful maps. A thoroughly enjoyable read.
Eric
A little dry at times, but overall a solid history book.
William
Really, really enjoyed.
Tony
Tony added it
Jun 30, 2015
BMR, MSW, LSW
BMR, MSW, LSW marked it as to-read
Jun 22, 2015
Mike
Mike marked it as to-read
Jun 13, 2015
James
James marked it as to-read
Jun 05, 2015
Puong Fei
Puong Fei marked it as to-read
May 29, 2015
Mary
Mary marked it as to-read
May 27, 2015
Katie
Katie marked it as to-read
May 12, 2015
Newt
Newt added it
Apr 15, 2015
Buch Heft
Buch Heft marked it as to-read
Apr 08, 2015
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Broken Markets: How High Frequency Trading and Predatory Practices on Wall Street Are Destroying Investor Confidence and Your Portfolio
  • A Death in the Lucky Holiday Hotel: Murder, Money, and an Epic Power Struggle in China
  • Engineers of Dreams: Great Bridge Builders and the Spanning of America
  • American Passage: The History of Ellis Island
  • Wicked River: The Mississippi When It Last Ran Wild
  • Final Voyage: A Story of Arctic Disaster and One Fateful Whaling Season
  • Global Crisis: War, Climate Change and Catastrophe in the Seventeenth Century
  • Brothers at War: The Unending Conflict in Korea
  • Thieves of State: Why Corruption Threatens Global Security
  • Deep State: Inside the Government Secrecy Industry
  • Edison and the Electric Chair: A Story of Light and Death
  • Railroaded: The Transcontinentals and the Making of Modern America
  • Desert America: Boom and Bust in the New Old West
  • Appetite for America: How Visionary Businessman Fred Harvey Built a Railroad Hospitality Empire That Civilized the Wild West
  • Humboldt: Life on America's Marijuana Frontier
  • The Dead Yard: Tales of Modern Jamaica
  • The Spanish Inquisition: A Historical Revision
  • Darwin's Island: The Galapagos In The Garden Of England
Walter R. Borneman, b.1952, an American historian and lawyer, is the author of well-known popular books on 18th and 19th century United States history. He received his B.A. in 1974 from Western State College of Colorado, and received an M.A. in history there in 1975 for a thesis on "Irwin : silver camp of the Ruby Mountains"; in 1981 he received a law degree from the University of Denver, and prac ...more
More about Walter R. Borneman...
Polk: The Man Who Transformed the Presidency and America The Admirals: Nimitz, Halsey, Leahy, and King—the Five-Star Admirals Who Won the War at Sea 1812: The War That Forged a Nation The French and Indian War: Deciding the Fate of North America American Spring: Lexington, Concord, and the Road to Revolution

Share This Book