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Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Secret Subway by Martin W. Sandler
I have always and will always be a fan of non-fiction, especially if it deals with American history at the turn of the century in big cities like New York. Can you imagine how much progress was made during this time? It was amazing....and here's a book devoted to the inventiveness of Americans, especially one in New York City.
Downtown New York in the mid 1800's - full of horses and carriages, pedestrians, manure...it was a city full of grandeur in its department stores, music, artists and architecture, but public transportation was the only fracture in this marvelous of all cities in the world. With the ingenuity of a young man named Alfred Beach, NYC would start its first journey in the United States of tunneling underground for public transportation, and not with coal, not with electricty...but with pneumatics...
Beach had a lot to overcome. It was something he had done so many other times before. First was when he was given a foundering magazine called Scientific American and made it into the most respectable scientific journal, even at today's standards. Next, he outwitted Boss Tweed with finesse and cunning, but with complete honesty to begin his tunneling and kept the project secret longer than anyone thought possible.
But with big dreams founded on financial bankers, all it would take was a depression to kill Beach's plans for reliable, clean transportation. And although he would never see his dream, his plans would move forward.
Amazing images, stories within stories, this is a book that those teens who enjoy a fast non-fiction will swim through. It will fascinate readers with a taste for life in the 19th and early 20th century and the combination of images and wording is a perfect fit even for those reluctant readers. Although the reading level is more suited to junior high, this would be a welcome edition at the high school level. Recommended.