Read More About It. . .
Hundreds of books have been written about the building of the transcontinental railroad. Many of them choose to focus on one element or one central figure in a terribly complex story. Recognizing that any suggested reading list will be incomplete and overlook important works, the producers of Promontory nonetheless recommend the following books for your consideration. Our emphasis is on understanding the often-overlooked "Utah angle" of one of the nation's most remarkable events of the 19th century. Where appropriate, the producers have included comments on the work.
The Empire Express by David Haward Bain (Viking, 1999)
Producer's Comments: Crafted over fourteen years and extraordinarily well-researched, Bain's work emerges as a definitive telling of the complex story of the ambition, vision, achievement and corruption that are all a part of the completion of the transcontinental railroad. Bain is a gifted writer, and tells the story very well.
Union Pacific: Birth of a Railroad 1862-1893
Producer's Comments: While working under the burden of being an "official history" Klein has produced a fascinating look at one side of the transcontinental railroad effort.
Brigham Young: American Moses
Producer's Comments: At the time of his death in 1999, Arrington was widely considered the "dean" of Utah historians. Not only had he offered several seminal works on the history of Utah and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but he had also mentored a generation of young writers and historians during his term as LDS Church Historian, a period that is still considered a time of unequaled access and inquiry.
History of Utah 1540-1887 by Hubert H.
Bancroft (The History Co., 1891)
History of California, vol. VII, 1860-1890
Bancroft's Guide for Travelers by
The Great Western Illustrated in a Series of
Producer's Comments: Photography was just coming of age as a documentary tool in the years after the Civil War. Russell's work, commissioned by the Union Pacific, offers an exceptional record of the back-breaking, day-to-day labor of railroad construction. . .as well as his landmark photograph of the final "Golden Spike" ceremony at Promontory, Utah. (See also: the photographic works of William Henry Jackson and Charles Savage.)
The New Encyclopedia of the American West
Producer's Comments: If you are looking for an easy-to-use and dependable overview of people, places and events that have been central to the history of the American West, former Yale University President and History Professor Howard Lamar has created an excellent resource. In addition to smart, short essays introducing hundreds of topics, the Encyclopedia also offers excellent suggested readings for greater detail.
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