Books to explore

Well, I’m reading this book called Empire Express, which is about the building of the transcontinental railway.  This is turning out to be a quick read for me — the historian uses easy words and the subject matter is not difficult to comprehend.  Also, you know that in the end, the boy wins the girl, I mean, the railway does get built.  This stands in contrast to Six Days of War, a new book I read recently (critically acclaimed!), which took ages to finish; it was about the infidel Arab aggression committed against fair Israel in 1967 (not that I have an opinion on it).  In that case, I spent all this time looking places up and trying to play Jumble with all of the acronyms, and I didn’t know about the great suspense item of the book: whether Israel or Egypt would start the war.  (Spoiler: it was both.)  Still a great read, however — I recommend it, and if any of my readers know a good book on the 1973 war, I’d like to hear about that.

Anyway, Empire Express, long story short: good book so far, check it out if you care about the building of the American West.  I thought I would shut up now and share a small gem of a quote from the book with you.  The original source is identified as J. H. Beadle in a work called The Undeveloped West, or, Five Years in the Territories (1873), and he is describing Nebraska’s Platte River, which the railwaymen are building alongside.

…a dirty and uninviting lagoon, only differing from a slough in having a current from half a mile to two miles wide, and with barely water enough to fill an average canal; six inches of fluid water running over another stream of six feet or more of treacherous sand; too thin to walk on, too thick to drink, too shallow for navigation, too deep for safe fording, too yellow to wash in, too pale to paint with — the most disappointing and least useful stream in America.

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