U.S. Intellectual History Blog

new book

After reading this New Republic review (located behind a paywall), I am so excited about Richard White’s new(ish) book on the building of the transcontinental railroad that I cannot stand it. Apparently, White challenges the popular understanding of the transcontinentals to argue that they were built for political rather than economic reasons, that their railroad magnate founders were not only cruel but incompetent, and that their raison d’être was bilking the federal government. Sounds pretty great to me! The book was also reviewed in the New York Times by Michael Kazin, who will sit on the Friday panel on American exceptionalism at the upcoming S-USIH conference.