Ambrose Bierce Takes on the Railroad: The Journalist as Muckraker and Cynic

Synopsis

An account of California journalist and wit Ambrose Bierce and his struggle with the railroad "octopus" controlled by "the Big Four" (Collis P. Huntington, Leland Stanford, Charles Crocker, and Mark Hopkins). This is the first book to look at Bierce's early muckraking campaign in depth through Bierce's acid journalism and the railroad's private and public reactions. After a brief literature review and biography of Bierce, one of America's greatest wits, journalists, and short-story writers, the study turns to his thirty-year battle with the Central Pacific Railroad, which controlled much of California's economy and politics, often through bribery of politicians and newspaper editors and publishers. Lindley looks at the initial funding of the railroad through the U.S. government, the development of railroads as symbols of hope and progress, and the eventual corruption of that optimistic outlook by railroad owners and politicians.