(2005) Reviewed by the New York Times as: "a word of praise for Old Rails' Tales, volume one of an up-to-the-minute American railroad oral history edited by Alan Allen...straight-forward, substantial and well-researched...the cream of the crop [of new railroad books]...successfully breaks away from the old self-conscious, hangdog, and almost occultist 'railroadiana' conventions of so many postwar books about train[s]...in which the tone was either wistful or
aggrieved, and railroads were presented as part of a time...sealed off from
modern life...In touch with railroading! Bold! And bouyant! Energetic!
Compassionate! Extraordinary!" (hardcover review 12/22/91)
This oral journalism/oral history book is written in a style blended of classical American anecdotist James Thurber and classical Russian author Anton Chekhov, providing matter-of-fact reporting of the most emotional moments of the on-the-job lives of six generations of American 'rails' (a self-titled term used by those who work running the railroads).
True stories from the lives of American Rails
Alan Allen releases family edition of ‘cream of the crop’ railroading book
SAN FRANCISCO – The only book of on-the-job, true stories told first-hand by six generations of steam engineers, firemen, conductors, brakemen, switchmen, dispatchers, yardmasters and superintendents on Southern Pacific, Western Pacific, Santa Fe and Amtrak – and the first women engineers in California, Old Rails’ Tales: Anecdotes, Stories & Memoirs on the Road and in the Yard (published by Trafford) shares 285 true stories and anecdotes in this newly released abridged family edition for ages 9 to adult. Includes foreword by Studs Terkel and interview with Linda Neimann.
When reviewed in limited hard cover edition in 1991, New York Times said, “a word of praise for Old Rails’ Tales, volume one of an up-to-the-minute American railroad history edited by Alan Allen…straight forward…substantial and well-researched…cream of the crop…in touch with railroading! Bold! Buoyant! Energetic! Compassionate! Extraordinary!” Now available in paperback.
Author Alan Allen provides matter-of-fact oral journalism reporting the most emotional moments in the working lives of American ‘rails’, a self-titled term used by railroad workers, including riding on top of runaway boxcars towards Coathanger Curve, running into gasoline trucks that explode at track crossings, chasing escaped rabbits through derailed boxcars full of blueberries then thru town, and how to run a steam locomotive.
Conservative and hippie, good natured, funny, and rebellious rails are interviewed in this oral history of everyday on-the-job blue collar heroes of our Americana steam era.