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Fire & Steam Audiobook

Fire & Steam: A New History of the Railways in Britain

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Publisher's Summary

The opening of the pioneering Liverpool & Manchester Railway in 1830 marked the beginning of the railway network's vital role in changing the face of Britain.

Fire & Steam celebrates the vision of the ambitious Victorian pioneers who developed this revolutionary transport system and the navvies who cut through the land to enable a country-wide railway to emerge.

From the early days of steam to electrification, via the railways' magnificent contribution in two world wars, the chequered history of British Rail and the buoyant future of the train, Fire & Steam examines the importance of the railway and how it helped to form the Britain of today.

©2007 Christian Wolmar; (P)2008 Soundings

What the Critics Say

"A beautifully written, detailed (but never anoraky) history of two centuries of life on the iron road." (Telegraph)
"An excellent book." (Independent)
"It is written in a brisk, down-to-earth style (a favourite adjective is "daft"), and is enjoyably replete with bizarre details" (Guardian)

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What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.3 (62 )
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3.7 (34 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Neil Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, United Kingdom 11/04/2009
    Neil Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, United Kingdom 11/04/2009
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    "Fascinating & Compelling"

    I?ve always been a `railway enthusiast` ever since my school days, but not as much for the technical gauge?s and measurements, specs and performance, but more so for the love of the `thing` itself, the railways? This book is fantastically arranged and pieced together, offering a perfect account of the history of the railways merged with the explanations behind why we have the system we have today, who was responsible and why. The author self-reads this title, and his voice is compelling and alluring, you feel the man really did love the topic and that his whole heart and sole has gone into this one. and it really has. I would easily listen to this again and highly recommend to anyone, be they just wanting an overview from their beginnings to now, or a true railway enthusiast.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ian 02/08/2010
    Ian 02/08/2010
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    "Even if you are no railway buff..."

    ... This is a supurb read. The balance of detail with breadth, of purely railway information with wider social and economic developments is impressive. I am NOT a railway buff, but took a chance on this book and was hooked. Wonderful for anyone wanting to mug up 'railways' for a history exam, or for anyone simply looking to enrich their understanding of the past two centuries. Wolmar loves his subject, but can step back and take a balanced, non-sentimental view of it. The reactity of steam travel in the so-called Golden Age is well described, and you get an understanding of the reasons why Britain acquired such a jumbled rail network. If you are looking for something a little different, may I recommend you try this book. I wanted more, and there's an international follow-up that I will certainly hunt out.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Simon Adderbury, Oxon, United Kingdom 20/10/2009
    Simon Adderbury, Oxon, United Kingdom 20/10/2009
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    "A must for all historians of Victorian Britain"

    This is mamouth listen and full marks for Christian for reading it himself. But the listener is rewarded with an engrossing train ride through the early, pioneering, days of Britains railways, the backbone of the industrial revolution.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alison Buckingham, Bucks, United Kingdom 16/04/2010
    Alison Buckingham, Bucks, United Kingdom 16/04/2010
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    "Fire & Steam"

    This was a period of British history I knew little about and so felt it was time to bring myself up to speed and hence this book. I was impressed by the book itself but felt it was read somewhat too fast by it's author. Having said that it was well researched and really brought the subject to life and made me look at all those tracks and stations in a new way.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andrew PETERBOROUGH, United Kingdom 23/12/2012
    Andrew PETERBOROUGH, United Kingdom 23/12/2012 Member Since 2016
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    "Never knew trains could be so interesting"

    An excellent book. Tells the development of the railways in both a chronological and logical way. It explains the importance of railways in the history of Britain with fascinating glimpses into the past and future. Brilliantly read by the author whose joy and enthusiasm is infectious. Is a book for everyone not just train enthusiasts.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeanette Barnsley, United Kingdom 19/06/2011
    Jeanette Barnsley, United Kingdom 19/06/2011 Member Since 2009
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    "The Magic of the Railway"

    As the granddaughter of a signalman this book has a special magic for me, placing the railway at the focus of Britain from its origins to the present day. The remarkable place of trains in the lives of the working population of Britain, from commuting, to fresh food transport, to the beginning of the holiday leisure industry, and the fellowship of trade associations and trades unions, is really brought to life (including the sexism of the industry). 'Narrated by the author' really adds to this experience, as Christian Wolmar is clearly fired by the subjects he has written about. A really good buy.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    USB Kid 28/09/2016
    USB Kid 28/09/2016 Member Since 2013
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    "Informed & contextualised history of this important technology & it's interaction with society & politics!"

    Really well developed history, contextualised thoroughly against the social & political changes up to the early consideration of HS2. Very interesting on the role & impact of the railway in both world wars & how it was short changed by the post war governments. The author as the reader is understandable & is competent but the tempo & delivery are a just a little uncomfortable - but this is gripe rather than a criticism! Really recommended for anyone interested in railways & society!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stephen 06/05/2016
    Stephen 06/05/2016 Member Since 2016

    armadillo314

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    "Excellent narrative held my attention from the start"

    I was educated, entertained, and in no small part surprised by this history of the railways in Britain.

    If you are interested in trains, social change from the 1800's on, or politics of transportation - then this book will satisfy you with its study covering all these topics as they played out in the UK.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    darran 21/01/2015
    darran 21/01/2015 Member Since 2013
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    "Very good book"

    A very good book and as usual when an audiobook is read by the author, it is just that little bit more engaging
    I would thougherly recommended this for us Trainspotters and for the uninfected. as well. 10/10

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    MR Harrow, United Kingdom 07/06/2013
    MR Harrow, United Kingdom 07/06/2013
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    "Refreshing and fascinating"

    I was pleasantly surprised with this book an easy listen, especially good on a train journey.

    Enough detail without being tedious.

    However it was deflating to hear the 'Jimmy Saville' BR advertising reference toward the latter end of the book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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  • Brian Cohen
    05/09/08
    Overall
    "A story of how technology impacts society."

    A thoroughly absorbing story detailing the history of rail in Britain; how it affected and transformed the social fabric in the Industrial age and how it had to, ultimately, transform itself to deal with modern times, technological advancements (usually through necessity) and the whims of political interference.
    A simple thing like the standardization of time from village to village is a consequence of being able to maintain a train schedule! This and other anecdotes show how things that are taken for granted today presented major problems in the mid 1800s. Fresh milk in the city, only if you had a cow in the back yard! What do you imagine life was like when the typical speed of transportation was only 2mph!
    If you love technology or even just how it can impact life, there is no better read. This is the 19th century equivalent of the Internet revolution,
    Non British readers may be confused by all the place names but they are so well interwoven into the compelling narrative that you will actually want to know where they all are, I would suggest having a small map of the UK handy to pinpoint the locations.

    10 of 10 people found this review helpful

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