The title here suggests you’ll get a dry history of financier Jay Cooke and his money problems building the Northern Pacific, but this big book is a treat beyond all expectations.
Railroad routes across the northern span of the country had to be surveyed, and throughout the 1870s, this proved to be a frustrating and adventurous undertaking. The accounts of surveyors and engineers, and their battles with northern Plains Indians make for great reading, while the detailed histories of various Indian tribes and chiefs are equally fascinating. Western military forts and the cavalry are followed throughout their efforts to protect railroaders, gold seekers and new settlers, and George Custer is here in all his glory. Heavily illustrated, documented and annotated, this book is one of the most interesting multi-faceted histories to come down the trail in many years.