|About the Book|
David Haward Bain is the author of the classic narrative history, Empire Express: Building the First Transcontinental Railroad – “a breathtaking tale enthusiastically told, of vision, greed, adventure, courage, vision, betrayal, accomplishment”MoreDavid Haward Bain is the author of the classic narrative history, Empire Express: Building the First Transcontinental Railroad – “a breathtaking tale enthusiastically told, of vision, greed, adventure, courage, vision, betrayal, accomplishment” (Chicago Sun-Times) – and the unforgettable historical travel memoir, The Old Iron Road – “his wholly winning book can be approached (and enjoyed) as history, memoir, and travelogue of the highest order, ambitious, magisterial, intimate, and engaging” (Los Angeles Times). In Mighty Good Road: Writings on Railroads, the West, and American History, he has collected many hard-to-find essays, talks, and reviews from three decades. “What knits them together,” he writes in a preface, “is a love of the stories and the people who have gone before us, leaving their footprints and fingerprints and deeds and manuscripts –– and hopefully some instruction ¬¬ for us to ponder.”Whether addressed to an attentive audience of thousands of historical pilgrims in the Utah desert, celebrating the anniversary of the driving of the Golden Spike, or read to several hundred poets, novelists, and essayists at the annual Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference in the Green Mountains of Vermont- whether heard in libraries or college auditoriums or read in newsprint or magazine type, his work presented here never neglects the sumptuous power of narrative and human witness, which has earned him many thousands of readers. His sweep of historical characters and voices vary widely – Mark Twain and fellow writers Wallace Stegner and Bernard DeVoto, the railroad mogul Thomas Durant, the “Pathfinder,” John C. Frémont, Abraham Lincoln, labor agitator Big Bill Haywood, Theodore Roosevelt, the Nicaraguan revolutionary leader Augusto Sandino, the South’s antebellum “Fire Eaters,” and legions of combatants of the Civil War, the Spanish-American and Philippine-American wars, the “Good War” against fascism.Mighty Good Road, his first full-length e-publication, joins seven books issued over three decades: Aftershocks: The Vietnam War Comes Home (1980), Sitting in Darkness: Americans in the Philippines (1984, Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Book Award), Whose Woods These Are: The Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference (1992), Empire Express (1999, Book-of-the-Month Club Main Selection and inspiration for The American Experience documentary, “Transcontinental Railroad”), The College on the Hill (1999), The Old Iron Road: An Epic of Rails, Roads, and the Urge to Go West (2004), and Bitter Waters: America’s Forgotten Naval Mission to the Dead Sea (2011).David Haward Bain teaches at Middlebury College and lives in Orwell, Vermont.