Book Review — Rails Around the World: Two Centuries of Trains and Locomotives

Rails Around the World: Two Centuries of Trains and Locomotives by Brian Solomon is a pictorial history of trains. Solomon is one of today’s most accomplished railway historians. He has authored more than twenty-five books about railroads and motive power. His writing and photography have been featured in the world’s top railfan publications, including TrainsRailway AgePassenger Train Journal, and RailNews

From hand-drawn and black and white photographs to brilliant color photos, Solomon takes the reader on a ride through history. Rails have been credited with expanding America and connecting all parts of the country from coast to coast. Rails similarly joined Canada. Rail systems changed the way armies were mobilized and supplied in the First World War. Large cities rely on rail to move their people to and from work and transport goods across the country or continent. Rails were a symbol of national pride and conveyed a romantic image of travel. Lines like the Orient Express, The Flying Scotsman, The 20th Century Limited, and the Trans-Siberian Express all live on in memory and history.  

Rails Around the World also covers less known trains that provided practical service but without the more powerful machines’ glamour. Commuter trains and electric trains are given their place in history around the world. Vladimir Lenin Electrics, Amtrack, and Japan’s bullet train demonstrate the difference and range in passenger transportation.  

The evolution of the steam engine to the diesel to the bullet train is displayed in a smooth transition. Old steam engines slowly adopt a more aerodynamic shape, some even falling into the art deco category, before developing into the utility diesel and then into the fully streamlined TGV bullet train.  Rails Around the World demonstrates the versatility and adaptability of the oldest modern form of transportation. An informative and beautifully illustrated history of trains in all their forms. 

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