• Iron Empires

  • Robber Barons, Railroads, and the Making of Modern America
  • By: Michael Hiltzik
  • Narrated by: Nick Tecoksy
  • Length: 14 hrs and 57 mins
  • 4.3 out of 5 stars (23 ratings)

1 title per month from Audible’s entire catalog of best sellers, and new releases.
Access a growing selection of included Audible Originals, audiobooks and podcasts.
You will get an email reminder before your trial ends.
Your Premium Plus plan is $14.95 a month after 30 day trial. Cancel anytime.
Buy for $31.49

Buy for $31.49

Pay using card ending in
By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and Amazon's Privacy Notice. Taxes where applicable.

Publisher's Summary

In 1869, when the final spike was driven into the Transcontinental Railroad, few were prepared for its seismic aftershocks. Once a hodgepodge of short, squabbling lines, America’s railways soon exploded into a titanic industry helmed by a pageant of speculators, crooks, and visionaries. The vicious competition between empire builders such as Cornelius Vanderbilt, Jay Gould, J. P. Morgan, and E. H. Harriman sparked stock market frenzies, panics, and crashes; provoked strikes that upended the relationship between management and labor; transformed the nation’s geography; and culminated in a ferocious two-man battle that shook the nation’s financial markets to their foundations and produced dramatic, lasting changes in the interplay of business and government.

Spanning four decades and featuring some of the most iconic figures of the Gilded Age, Iron Empires reveals how the robber barons drove the country into the 20th century - and almost sent it off the rails.

Narrated by Nick Tecosky.

©2020 Michael Hiltzik (P)2020 HarperCollins Publishers

More from the same

What listeners say about Iron Empires

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    13
  • 4 Stars
    6
  • 3 Stars
    3
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    1
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    15
  • 4 Stars
    4
  • 3 Stars
    3
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    11
  • 4 Stars
    6
  • 3 Stars
    5
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

A bit superficial but interesting.

This is a good overview of the railroad history but not quite detailed as I would have liked.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

A marvelous and highly detailed account.

I so enjoyed the depth and detail of Michael Hiltzig’s research and portrayal of the story of the building of our country’s railroads and the tail of the powerful personalities that both built them and exploited them. Be ready and have your dictionary close at hand as your vocabulary will expand in a delightful way!

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

A book about railroads with very little railroadin

A book about railroads with very little railroading. A lively, if rather compressed, look at 19th century railroad magnates and the very complicated/confusing schemes to finance them.

Hiltzik's "Iron Empires" jumps right into the fray in describing the chaos that was railroad management, financing, and failure of post-war 19th Century. There's some irony in that a book about railroads doesn't actually have a lot of railroading in it. Thematically, this works as the entire era was a large and unwieldy mess of stock options, short-selling, new lines, cartels and trusts.

Instead, we get mini biographies of the major RR magnates of the time with JP Morgan and EH Harriman getting the most page time. But the bulk of the book is dedicated to the byzantine nature of RR financing and the various stock machinations/manipulations that occurred as Dummy Corporation #1 would try to buy Random Line #2 and then name Magnate #3 to its board of directors for the purpose of ultimately securing a controlling interest in Major Railroad #4. It's more than a little confusing.

Nevertheless, the writing is lively and keeps the narrative going even if we seem to spend far more time in the trading houses of New York than out on the rails.