My fellows of the four-eyed tribe have not, in general, used the basic model to anywhere near its full utility. Speaking of "utility," I sought in vain for any reason for the provocative subtitle, "RailroadsNot Quite a Utility. A "Utility Company" is one of a number of enterprises that deliver value to complex benefit structures "many stakeholders" , typically including a broad set of real-estate holders.
Railroads Triumphant: The Growth, Rejection, and Rebirth of a Vital American Force
Put sewers, water pipes, and wires on the land, and the land is a lot more valuable. And then there are the direct customers, the businesses and the households that buy the water and deliver the poo. Professor Martin's detailed description of the life and death of the railroad reveals that it is, in fact, the first great large-scale natural-monopoly shared-benefit enterprise "utility," in the deprecated terminology , with all the enormous and varied challenges and potentials of the situation.
And if Professor Martin had understood that, and put on some spectacles and studied just a tad of imperfect-competition economics, and thought about the political economy of locational monopoly, he would have understood that his preferred prescription, to let Vanderbilt and Huntington and Gould and the grifter Dupont and the others run a perfectly differentiating monopoly to extract all the rents, which because they were civic minded and just wanted to enrich the nation they would do But you gotta read the book for other reasons.
The old gentleman was allowed to rant freely in the parentheticals without the constraints of an annoying editor. I wish I were he.
How did he get that freedom from Oxford University Press? I am going to reread the book sometime, just to count the variations on "Hey you kids get offa my lawn. My kids used to call me Google Papa, since I had an answer for everything. With age and experience they learned I was more a Wiki-Papa: Completely useless for citations.
This book is like that. Martin says that a good overall history of the railroads has yet to be written, but I think he has done a pretty good job of it himself, despite the fact that this novice can see a few lacunae in the story. What about the impact of the railroads on the development of our national parks? Or the fascination of young and old alike with model railroading?
Not central to the economic story he tells, of course, but of great interest nonetheless.
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I have long been interested in finding a good explanation for the massive industrial development of the United States in the last half of the 19th century, and while he takes the story from the point of view of the railroads, this book, which has been sitting on my "unread bookshelf" for far too long, goes a long way to answering the question.
I was born in and for the next 18 years lived within yards of a railroad freight yard and a major commuter line. The sounds, smells and vibrations of rail traffic and yard switching were part of the invisible fabric of my family's life.
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I ignored this "rail environment" as much as I did the car and truck traffic that ran outside my bedroom window on the state highway. Certainly I have sometimes waxed nostalgic about the steam locomotives I watched with rap fascination as a child and our occasional trip by rail coach. Nonetheless I had never given the history of railroads, how they came to be, what problems they encountered and what they meant to our Country any thought whatsoever. The book "Railroads Triumphant" by Albro Martin was a revelation to this reader. I was quite amazed by the fascinating history of railroads in the U.
As the author makes very clear prior to, say, , if you wanted to go somewhere, see something interesting, visit someone distant, conduct business, deliver or obtain goods your only true option was rail travel. The fact that this means of transportation was relatively inexpensive, reasonable safe and went practically everywhere did not happen by serendipity and that is the story related in this book.
I want to make one thing clear to individuals considering reading this book. The author's focus is on the 'business" of railroad history written from an academic perspective. At times I found myself skimming over pages I found uninteresting. Nonetheless there is sufficient information on the topic of railroads that the curious adult reader will find this book worth reading. Albro Martin has a wonderful style of writing which makes this a great read - even better than Enterprise Denied. It details how railroads have not only survived, but continue to play a vital part in our everyday lives, even though we see less and less of them today.
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Albro Martin's history is a colourful chronicle of the great railroad founders and builders, famous trains, and classic stations. It is, however, much more than a romance of the rails: Anyone reading this book will have a good understanding of the fundamental issues which have shaped the current American railroad scene. Albro Martin boldly asserts his views and presents them authoritatively American Studies -.
It contains elements which entertain, inform and guide. It has a rare ability to be both eminently readable, like a novel, and instructive in both the general social history of the American railway age and in the piercing insights into the involvement by the politicians and the bureaucratic process that followed them. Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford.
It furthers the University's objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide. One wonders how our transportation infrastructure would have turned out in Martin brings a curmudgeonly angle to the history of railroads, especially during their heyday s to One wonders how our transportation infrastructure would have turned out in the s had Martin-esque thought leaders overcome the Progressive crusaders who derailed the trains in favor of trucking interests.
Mar 08, Bethany rated it it was ok. This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I bought the book because of the title.
Railroads Triumphant - Albro Martin - Oxford University Press
I wanted to believe that American railroads had triumphed! The book concludes with freight being very successful after years of floundering, but I wouldn't use the word triumphant. So after three hundred or so pages I was disappointed.
A good history if you're really into railroading. The book is more topical than chronological. Being Chronological would have made it easier for me to follow. Benjamin Thomas rated it it was ok Feb 22, SkipO rated it really liked it Feb 21, Michael rated it it was ok Jun 20, Bart rated it liked it Feb 23, Jim Rizzo rated it it was ok Jun 16, Rachel Ramsey rated it it was amazing Dec 18, Warren Meyer rated it it was amazing Jul 17, Lee rated it liked it Nov 03, Mulligan rated it liked it Apr 25, Kevin rated it liked it May 23, Jason Wax rated it really liked it Dec 02, Ryan rated it really liked it Oct 29, Jay Krutulis rated it it was amazing Jun 25, Thomas marked it as to-read May 30, Ann marked it as to-read Sep 23, Davy added it Oct 07, Timothy added it Jul 22, John marked it as to-read Aug 14, Dale Ducatte added it Oct 16, Zuriel Redwood added it Feb 16, Gene Divens marked it as to-read Mar 21, Geoffrey Sanders added it Mar 31, South Campus Library added it Jan 27, Doug added it Jun 16, Daniela Moyer marked it as to-read Feb 16,