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The Great American Railroad War

How Ambrose Bierce and Frank Norris Took On the Notorious Central Pacific Railroad

Dennis Drabelle

St. Martin's Press

How two of America’s greatest authors took on the Central Railroad monopoly
 
 
The notorious Central Pacific Railroad riveted the attention of two great American writers: Ambrose Bierce and Frank Norris. In The Great American Railroad War, Dennis Drabelle tells a classic story of corporate greed vs. the power of the pen. The Central Pacific Railroad accepted US Government loans; but, when the loans fell due, the last surviving founder of the railroad avoided repayment. Bierce, at the behest of his boss William Randolph Hearst, swung into action writing over sixty stinging articles that became a signal achievement in American journalism. Later, Norris focused the first volume of his trilogy, The Octopus, on the freight cars of a thinly disguised version of the Central Pacific. The Great American Railroad War is a lively chapter of US history pitting two of America’s greatest writers against one of A merica’s most powerful corporations.

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Working on the Railroad

 
Trains chuffed into the world in the 1820s and ’30s, bridging physical and temporal chasms that had held humans back for millennia. The historian Walter A. McDougall has described the upheaval wrought by this revolutionary technology (with supplemental help from the telegraph): “When [Andrew] Jackson entered the White House in 1829, people, goods, and information—even in the most advanced countries—could not travel overland any faster than they did in the time of Julius Caesar. Then all concepts of space, time, and volume
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THE GREAT AMERICAN RAILROAD WAR by Dennis Drabelle | Kirkus Book Reviews
Read the Kirkus Review of THE GREAT AMERICAN RAILROAD WAR How Ambrose Bierce and Frank Norris Took on the Notorious Central Pacific Railroad. A story of rapacious railroads and angry pens in the Gilded Age.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Dennis Drabelle

  • DENNIS DRABELLE is author of Mile-High Fever. He has written for multiple publications and is currently a contributing editor and a mysteries editor for The Washington Post Book World. In 1996 he won the National Book Critics Circle’s award for excellence in reviewing. He lives in Washington, D.C.
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The Great American Railroad War

How Ambrose Bierce and Frank Norris Took On the Notorious Central Pacific Railroad

Dennis Drabelle

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FROM THE PUBLISHER

St. Martin's Press

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