Wartime railroading Trains to Victory: America's Railroads in World War II By Donald J. Heimburger




RECOMMENDED READING Wartime railroading Trains to Victory: America's Railroads in World War II By Donald J. Heimburger and John Kelly. Heimburger House Publishing Co., 7236 W. Madison Street, Forest Park, IL 60130; www.rieimburgerhouse.com; 8 ½ x 11 in.; hardcover; 380 pages, 542 photos, 285 illustrations; $59.95, or $74.95 with slipcase and gold foil imprint.

The gigantic contribution of America's railroads to victory in World War II is a familiar story, but never told as impressively as this imposing new volume. Heimburger House has published many good railroad books, but this is its high-water mark. Jammed to the gunwales with photographs, charts, technical drawings, firstperson accounts, and vintage advertisements, the book feels as big as its subject.

The 542 photos, mostly black-andwhite, depict every aspect of the war effort on rails. It's all here: the men and material of troop trains, scores of steam locomotives built during the war years, specialty equipment such as troop sleepers and Baldwin export 2-8-2s, jam-packed freight yards and bustling passenger terminals, and the quiet moments of soldiers on their fateful journeys. The authors have tapped an impressive range of contributors and archives in an effort to be comprehensive, and the images benefit from a first-class printing job.

The book chronicles the role of newspaper and magazine ads that buoyed the public morale and extolled the railroads' patriotism. The New Haven's famed "The Kid in Upper 4" and the Pennsylvania Railroad's heroic color paintings are included.

The book's 13 chapters tell, perhaps tor the first time in one volume, a number of important stories: the strain on the nation's passenger terminals and trains; the effect of the War Production Board's quotas on steam locomotive design; the importance of the Army's railway regiments and its military "camp railroads;" the challenge of running the Army troop trains; the role of women railroaders.

The authors have thoughtfully included a number of personal anecdotes, such as the enlisted man who managed to keep his seat in the dining car despite the protests of officers at surrounding tables, or the Katy fireman briefly arrested for taking 8mm movies of German prisoners of war, or the man in Ogden, Utah, saddened when injured soldiers paused during a hospital-train station stop. These stories bring to lite the larger story of railroading's finest hour. - Kevin P. Keefe

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