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Ghosts of Gold Mountain: The Epic Story of…
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Ghosts of Gold Mountain: The Epic Story of the Chinese Who Built the… (edition 2019)

by Gordon H. Chang (Author)

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Member:abbot
Title:Ghosts of Gold Mountain: The Epic Story of the Chinese Who Built the Transcontinental Railroad
Authors:Gordon H. Chang (Author)
Info:Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (2019), 320 pages
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Ghosts of Gold Mountain: The Epic Story of the Chinese Who Built the Transcontinental Railroad by Gordon H. Chang

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This was a very informative book, although clearly difficult for the author to write based on first-hand accounts of the Chinese experience on building the transcontinental railroad, since there are few first-hand accounts that have been preserved. The author presents much of his material from inference based on similar experiences of Chinese in other situations. Nonetheless, there is nothing apparent that would indicate that these inferences cannot be assumed to be correct.

The book clearly presents the case for how vastly important (and for the Central Pacific, highly critical) the individuals from China were to the construction of the railroad. Since the CP’s work force was overwhelmingly Chinese, the RR would either have not been built at all, or the trackage that the CP was able to complete versus the Union Pacific would have been significantly less, and in all likelihood, the transcontinental RR would have taken much, much longer to complete.

The information provided greatly adds to the understanding of the human sacrifice that was necessary for the TCRR to be built. Many deaths and much suffering by the Chinese are discussed, and the author makes it evident how terrifying some of the work was. Work continued 24/7, though the mountains, requiring vast use of explosives. But the discussion of the work necessary to keep the building going, especially the tales of the winter storms in the Sierras and how it was necessary to not only avoid being swept away by avalanches, but to actually have to tunnel thorough huge levels of snowfall to get to the work sites from the residential camps, is harrowing.

The only critique of the book I have is the presentation of the photographs. Granted, you cannot increase the size of the photos in the book without losing clarity – however, it would have been very helpful had the author used some method to point out where in the pictures were the items/people he was trying to point out. In other words, it would have been helpful to perhaps use a line with text next to the picture (although this might not have been permitted by the owners of the photographs). Otherwise, it was very difficult to see some very small details. Doing this would have added to the understanding of the book’s discussions. ( )
  highlander6022 | Jul 17, 2019 |
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"A groundbreaking, breathtaking history of the Chinese workers who built the Transcontinental Railroad, helping to forge modern America only to disappear into the shadows of history until now"--

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