In this "powerful book, crowded with telling details and shrewd observations" (NYTBR), MacArthur Fellow and Parkman Prize winner Richard White identifies the newly formed transcontinental railroads of the later 19th century to be pivotal actors in the making of modern America. But White skewers the triumphal myths of the golden spike, larger-than-life robber barons, and innovative free enterprise. Instead we have a new vision of the Gilded Age, often darkly funny, that shows history to be rooted as much in failure as in success.
"History as dark comedy, brilliant and unsettling. Mark Twain would be bitterly amused to learn just how gilded the Gilded Age really was."—Edward L. Ayers