From the author of the best-selling Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, Dee Brown's classic account of the building of the transcontinental railroad.
In February 1854 the first railroad from the East reached the Mississippi; by the end of the nineteenth century five major transcontinental railroads linked the East Coast with the Pacific Ocean and thousands of miles of tracks criss-crossed in the West, a vast and virginal land just a few years before.
The story of this extraordinary undertaking is one of breathtaking technological ingenuity, otherwordly idealism, and all-too-wordly greed. The heroes and villains were Irish and Chineselaborers, intrepid engineers, avaricious bankers, stock manipulators, and corrupt politicians. Before it was over more than 155 million acres (one tenth of the country) were given away to the railroad magnates, Indian tribes were decimated, the buffalo were driven from the Great Plains, millions of immigrants were lured from Europe, and a colossal continental nation was built.
Woven into this dramatic narrative are the origins of present-day governmental corruption, the first ties between powerful corporations and politicians who "enjoyed the frequent showers of money that fell upon them from railroad stock manipulators, and gave away America." How the people of that time responded to a sense of disillusionment remarkably similar to our own adds a contemporary dimension to this story.