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Summary

The Age of Railways was an era of extraordinary change which utterly transformed every aspect of British life - from trade and transportation to health and recreation. Full Steam Ahead reveals how the world we live in today was entirely shaped by the rail network, charting the glorious evolution of rail transportation and how it left its mark on every aspect of life, landscape and culture.

Peter Ginn and Ruth Goodman brilliantly bring this revolution to life in their trademark style, which engages and captivates. They explore the everyday lives and the intangible ephemeral history that makes up the stories of the people who built, worked and were affected by the railways. From the very first steam railways to the infrastructure that is still used in part today, they look at the men, women and children who lived and sometimes died constructing Britain's railway heritage. Immersing themselves in the story of how the railways made us what we are today, the authors uncover compelling social history along the way, exploring the railway's impact on everything from food and medicine to warfare and the class system. They tell the stories of the historic characters whose lives were changed by this radical mode of transport, describing the wider social history and geography of each particular region of Britain.

As they trace the emergence of the Industrial Revolution across the country, the authors discover a hidden layer of social history, using rail transportation as a backdrop to reveal Britain's radical change in social attitudes and culture across the 19th and early 20th centuries, including the rise of the working class, women's rights, industrial growth, economic decline, warfare and the birth of the great British holiday.

Full Steam Ahead is a passionate, charming and insightful look at Britain through the lens of one of its most momentous eras.

©2016 Lion Television Limited (P)2016 HarperCollins Publishers

Critic reviews

Praise for the authors: "Packed with delicious kernels of knowledge...all served up by the most delightfully eccentric author I've ever encountered. Seldom have I had so much fun reading history. Seldom have I learnt so much." ( The Times)
"Always entertaining." ( Observer)
"Fascinating, immersive history." ( The New York Times)

What listeners say about Full Steam Ahead

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Easy To Keep Track!

Loved the book, full of history, great for school history even, well done team!..... The facts , now we know how much the railways made the world as we know it today, Recommended!!!

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

A light introduction to the topic

Overall I found this book to be enjoyable background noise as I commuted to work. I wouldn’t say I learnt anything new but I think this work is intended more as an easy introduction than an in-depth study. The only real issue I found was repetition of information. Normally when a boo is co-authored the writers either write the work together or write individual chapters on different topics. What happens in this book is that one author covers a subject and in the next chapter the other author gives their take on the same points. This wouldn’t be too bad if they actually had something new to say but they end up quoting the same people and discussing the same incidents. I would guess this stems from the television origins of this work. Another minor issue is that it tends to get side tracked talking about the railways impact on cricket, package holidays, steam traction engines, etc.. Sone of this is relevant but with such a large topic as 200 years of railway history to cover I’m struggling to see the relevance of taking about the invention of test cricket (the trams didn’t travel by train).

This review may come across as overly critical but as I say, I did generally enjoy listening to it. Just don’t expect any great insights

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

A fascinating ramble through steam railways

This is an excellent book giving an overview of the steam railways of britain, however the layout (following the TV series) following each usage through time, rather than giving a chronological overview occasionally felt unnatural - I could not track to what extent improvements overlapped at times. As such, I found this more six or seven different histories of the railway according to category of what was transported. Still incredibly interesting, and very well presented (if a little enthusiastic at times for my taste), just not quite my preferred layout.

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    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent companion to the series.

Learned a lot of odd quirky things! Love the tv series one of my faves.