Academic journal article The Arkansas Historical Quarterly

The Railroad and the State: War, Politics, and Technology in Nineteenth-Century America

Academic journal article The Arkansas Historical Quarterly

The Railroad and the State: War, Politics, and Technology in Nineteenth-Century America

Article excerpt

The Railroad and the State: War, Politics, and Technology in Nineteenth-Century America. By Robert G. Angevine. (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2004. Pp. xvii, 351. Acknowledgments, tables, illustrations, notes, bibliography, index. $65.00.)

This study promises "a critical examination of the interaction between the army and the railroads of the United States throughout the nineteenth century"-especially during the railroads' nascent days and during the Civil War and its immediate aftermath (p. xv). The author correctly suggests that his work "provides a valuable prism through which to study the response of a military establishment to technological change, the development of American military thought, [and] the origins of military-industrial cooperation" (p. xiii).

Professor Angevine is especially adept in describing and analyzing the attitudes of U.S. Army officers toward the railroad as a new transportation device-first dismissing steamcars as inconsequential and, then, at least some of them embracing the interloper. Stark tension soon developed within the Corps of Engineers among exponents of massive fortifications and those who argued that railroads gave the military a mobility that eliminated the need for huge static structures.

Angevine also reminds readers that West Point turned out many talented officers who quickly left the service to become surveyors and civil engineers for the nation's burgeoning railroad industry. …

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