Online Engagement

Hopkins Fulfillment Services

Reviews

"The Train and the Telegraph blows up the assumption of many historians—myself included—that railroad and telegraph development unfolded in a kind of mutually beneficial way. It is rare to see a complete inversion of a well-established historical assumption; Schwantes should be congratulated on making his case so forcefully and effectively. This is a great book: clean, concise, effective, and tightly organized."

"Schwantes effectively weaves together the technologies of transportation and communication during the nineteenth century, debunking many of the myths that have appeared in earlier, and on occasion quite scholarly, works. Expanding our understanding of the symbiotic relationship between business history and the history of technology, this lucid book is well researched and well written; it should be of interest to a diverse readership."

"Schwantes's history of the relationship between the American telegraph and railroad industries shows us that the processes of technological diffusion and adoption are highly complex and contingent. Historians of technology and of capitalism will profit from this engagingly written and thoroughly researched book."

"In The Train and the Telegraph, Benjamin Schwantes offers the kind of complex and eye-opening contribution to an established literature that can only be achieved by digging for details in the archives. Schwantes refutes the received wisdom that the telegraph and railroad industries developed in tandem, with a synergy created by cooperating executives. Instead, he shows that they evolved in a multifaceted technological and business environment and that their innovators often based decisions on expediency. This is indeed revisionist history, in the best sense."

"The Train and the Telegraph breaks new ground in describing how two parallel systems—railroads and telegraphs—became intermingled. Schwantes deftly shows how officials navigated countless obstacles, including fickle regulators, the volatile economy, and the American Civil War, in their quest to control and profit from these iconic technological systems."

"Schwantes explores the surprisingly fraught relationships between telegraph companies and railroads. Telegraphic train management was met with resistance by all but a handful of progressive managers. Exogenous factors such as war, federal legislation, and finally the telephone played an enormous role in the process of adoption, or lack thereof. The story told is compelling."