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Books on Transportation - Reviews 

Delaware & Hudson: The History of an Important Railroad Whose Antecedent Was a Canal Network to Transport Coal by Jim Shaughnessy 
Excellent- detailed account of this important railroad  This book is wonderfully researched, chalked full of the details any railroad fan wants. The historical account of the D&H's begining as well as the discussion of the leaders of this great road are most interesting. A must read for those interested in the great railroads of the USA.  -- Reader Comment,

Classic American Railroads by Mike Schafer 
Classic American Railroads is a beautiful tribute to the golden age of railroading in America. Focusing on the years between WWII and the decline of rail travel in the 1970s, 16 of the most-remembered railroads and their finest equipment are featured in 200 original color and black and white photos.  -- Synopsis, Amazon.comOrder Now!
Air and Space: The National Air and Space Museum Story of Flight 
by Andrew Chaikin 
Drawing on the peerless collection of the National Air and Space Museum, the most popular museum in the world, this magnificent book brings readers the definitive story of humanity's conquest of the skies. From the first hot-air balloon to the Wright Brothers, the Apollo moon landing, and beyond, this work captures the daring innovators, brilliant discoveries, and breathtaking excitement of aviation like no other book. 525 photos and illustrations, 260 in color.  -- Synopsis,
The Airport: Planes, People, Triumphs, and Disasters at John F. Kennedy International by James Kaplan 
Before going on a cross-country flight, I decided to find a good book about airports, and was pleasantly  surprised to discover this book, an in-depth description of JFK, it's tens of thousands of employees, and  the general principles of the airline industry this airport illustrates. 

James Kaplan idolizes the brilliant essayist John McPhee, and at times, this book approaches the work  of the master--especially the second chapter about "the Birdman of Kennedy" (whose job is to protect human life and metal wing against the astonishingly potent threat of seagulls). 

The following passage illustrates Kaplan's reportage and writing at it's best: 

Down a hallway, toward passport control. "Human ingenuity is endless," Fingerman is saying. "People hide sausages in bandoliers around their body. I've seen a man trying to bring an entire fig tree on his person. The roots were in his shoes, the branches were in  his sleeves. One lady tried to hide her pet bird between her breasts. Another was wearing a big hat, with a whole hatband full of little finches"... Now his restless eyes pick out two men having their passports processed nearby. One is Italian, the other Venezuelan; they look as if they have on at least three sports jackets apiece. They have huge fake-Vuitton suitcases, and Fingerman leans on one of the bags as he says, in his carrying voice, "How are you gentlemen doing today?" 

I leave a little while later. Fingerman, who has forgotten all about me, is contentedly removing dozens of pieces of fruit and wrapped sausages from the men's bags as they gesture and shrug. And how delightfully ironic that this customs inspector's name is Fingerman! 

My only gripe is that the publisher should have spent more time editing this otherwise worthy volume--and Kaplan (like me several years ago) suffers from a dreaded syndrome I've dubbed "commatosis", the tendency to overuse commas. Otherwise, I heartily recommend this book to anyone who wants a good peek at how airports work--and how they sometimes fail so spectacularly. Two aerilons up!  --

Whirlybirds: A History of the U.S. Helicopter Pioneers by Jay P. Spenser 
Whirlybirds Is the Definitive History of the Helicopter 
Whirlybirds is the first book to look at more than just the nuts-and-bolts of helicopters. The machines are here, of course, but so too -- for the first time in any volume -- are people, technology, business, the role of the military, expectations versus reality, milestones, and other elements woven together in a coherent, richly textured tale of the evolution of vertical flight. Key pioneers are described in their quests to reduce vertical flight to practice through mass production. Like gamblers at a high-stakes poker game, they drew different cards and the race was on.... 

This book focuses on first-rank U.S. helicopter pioneers Igor Sikorsky, Frank Piasecki (founder of what's today Boeing Helicopters), Arthur Young (inventor of the Bell helicopter), and Stanley Hiller, Jr., of Hiller Aircraft / Fairchild-Hiller fame. Only these four individuals, and the companies behind them, successfully achieved mass production of helicopters before the end of the 1940s. What they accomplished, how they did it, what the real challenges were, and who actually did what are assembled here with facts and behind-the-scenes insights never presented before. The history of each of these companies is traced through succeeding decades as the industry came of age. 

Ever wonder how the Huey Cobra came about? Who invented the world's first stable helicopter? Or why the Navy had big helicopters before the Army? The REAL stories -- for the first time ever -- are in these exhaustively researched pages. This book combines scholarship with entertaining, highly readable text. In preserving the story of vertical flight, it does history a significant service. It is written for anyone with an interest in helicopters, technology, flight, and the human spirt. 

I was fortunate enough to be able to interview at length three of the four top-rank U.S. helicopter pioneers (Piasecki, Young, and Hiller), as well as dozens of others who took part in the evolution of vertical flight. I also availed myself of a prodigious amount of primary research material. As a result, Whirlybirds fills perhaps the last great gap in the existing body of flight literature.  --

Strange and Wonderful Aircraft by Harvey Weiss 
For Grades 4 through 7  
From fables and myths about flying through the Wright brothers' first brief but successful flight, Weiss details humankind's efforts to fly. The lively narrative, supported by a wealth of diagrams, drawings, and photographs, gives a chronological accounting of the wide variety of machines and apparatus created to achieve flight, including wings, gliders, balloons, and machine-powered aircraft. 

Instructions for making paper airplanes and a simplified propeller-driven helicopter add to the book's appeal and usefulness. This is an entertaining and easy-to-read introduction to the history of flight, though the lack of an index will frustrate children in search of specifics. 
-- Karen Hutt, Booklist, Copyright© 1996, American Library Association. All rights reserved 

A Cruising Guide to the Northeast's Inland Waterways: The Hudson River, New York State Canals, Lake Ontario, St. Lawrence Seaway, Lake Champlain by Thomas W. Marian, W. J. Rumsey (Contributor) 
This is the most comprehensive cruising guide ever published to one of North America's favorite cruising areas. Custom chartlets guide boaters into busy marinas and secluded anchorages throughout the system. Comprehensive ratings for beauty, interest, and available facilities help boaters decide itineraries. Throughout, the Rumseys act as personal tour guides, detailing the region's rich history and pointing out what there is to see and do today.  --

The Boat by Tom Kelly 
The boat in Kelly's (The Season, 1996, etc.) title--a 13-foot juniper-wood shallow-draft hunting skiff--is a springboard for the most delightful of reminiscences: light-footed, droll, its wisdom inferred rather than spoon-fed. What Kelly serves up here is the edifying moments of his life in the military and the timber business. He is the kind of timber cruiser one can only dream for: He respects a bottomland of hardwoods, considering not so much dollars per board foot as its value as a haven for game food (he is also a much-respected author of books on turkey hunting). In the military and the logging business and as a son-in-law, he knew how to keep his mouth shut and learn from the old hands, regardless of their place in the hierarchical setting: He appreciated what it meant to be the boss of a guy known as the Legend, and he learned the value of sensitivity, empathy, courtesy, and consideration--not in any epiphanal fashion, but simply as part of the process, much as readers come to appreciate the woodlands he cruises. For in Kelly's hands the unadorned naming of tree species--sweet bay, black gum, longleaf pine, water oak--is like music; he wrings an entire visual landscape from something as simple as ``a mixed stand of 50-year-old pine and hardwood with a closed crown.'' There is much more: forays into the history of American lumbering, a passing note on lid drinkers (those who chuck the cap after opening the bottle), why there were so few artillerymen in the artillery, the finer qualities of the Atlantic white cedar, the contours of the southern US sawmill business, the joys of being an official remittance man. And he makes a boat, too, an object loved and full of memories. Kelly spins gold from straw, a world from every mile he tramps and rows.  -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. 
Ghost Liners: Exploring the World's Greatest Lost Ships by Robert D. Ballard, Rick Archbold, Ken Marschall (Illustrator) 
The discoverer of this centuries most sought after ship wreckage recounts his exploration of the Titanic. Photographs taken during those dangerous dives plus eerily realistic artwork support the awe and reverence Ballard reveals in his text. In additional chapters he examines other, equally sensational ship disasters of the 20th century. He tells of the Lusitania, the Britannic, the Andrea Doria's collision with the Stockholm, and the Empress of Ireland's sinking in the St. Lawrence River. Each story is accompanied by black-and-white and full-color archival and contemporary photographs, diagrams, and magnificent full-color illustrations. Photographs of the sunken ships and artifacts on the ocean floor and riverbeds add notes of sobering reality to seemingly mythic tales. A few well-chosen quotes from passengers and crew about their experiences add a measure of poignancy. Careful observation of the destroyed ships and historical records reveal that often preventable causes of these accidents.  -- Ann G. Brouse, School Library Journal, September 1998

Classic American Cars by Quentin Willson, Matthew Ward (Photographer) 
Celebrating 60 of America's best-loved automobiles, this full-color car show spotlights the most glamourous cars of the golden era from 1945-1975. The text, by the author of The Ultimate Classic Car, and more than 680 lavish full-color photos reveal the design flourishes that make each car a classic.  --

Amazing Boats (Eyewitness Juniors, No 21) by Margaret Lincoln, Mike Dunning, Ray Moller (Photographer) 
For Ages 4 - 8 
An easy-to-read introduction to the world of boats provides a host of facts about the historical development of boats and rafts and how they work, providing information about diverse types of boats, including canoes, icebreakers, and racing boats. 

The Perfect Vehicle: What It is about Motorcycles by Melissa Holbrook Pierson 
"From my mother I learned to write prompt thank-you notes for a variety of occasions," Melissa Holbrook Pierson writes. "From Mrs. King's ballroom dancing school I learned a proper curtsy and, believe it or not, what to do if presented with nine eating utensils at the same place setting.... From motorcycles I learned practically everything else." Pierson, an intellectual New Yorker, is open to her own contradictions--she is bold and fearful, a motorcycle-crazed poet with a Ph.D., and these seeming incompatibilities are what make this book so good. She can write equally well about the visceral pleasures of riding and about the pains of heartbreak or her own displeasure with her fears. 

This is the motorcycle memoir for those who are sick of memoirs--or motorcycles. It is a book for people who don't know what the big deal is about riding, or why the Guggenheim Museum in New York, in a swirl of controversy, would exhibit motorcycles as works of modern art. "Riding on a motorcycle can make you feel joyous, powerful, peaceful, frightened, vulnerable, and back out to happy again," Pierson writes, "perhaps in the same ten miles. It is life compressed, its own answer to the question, 'Why?'"  --Maria Dolan,

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