The Train Book: The Definitive Visual History

This visual encyclopedia (320 pages) was published in October of 2014 by DK Publishing. The book takes you to trains around the world. David read The Train Book and loved it; it wouldn't be on our site if he didn't recommend it.

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The Train Book

The Definitive Visual History

DK Publishing

This 300-page, glossy book is loaded with beauty shots, maps, timelines, and illustrations that bring the long and colorful history of trains and rail travel to life. It opens with a pen and watercolor image of an 1830s locomotive, and the journey ends with a vision of the prototype train of the future.

In between, we get a dazzling history of trains and the people who made them a reality.

Thanks to the photographs and illustrations —of the trains and their passing scenery — you can take a virtual journey on famous and glamorous trains of the past. Map your route on the Orient Express from 1930s London to Istanbul or cruise on the luxurious ‘Palace on Wheels’ in India. Ride the world’s longest rail route aboard the Trans-Siberian Express or take an imaginary trip on the Blue Train through Africa.

There’s plenty of fascinating history and innovations to put all that glamour in context. Trains made the world smaller, allowing people of all social classes to travel farther and faster than they ever had before. The railroads also spurred both industry and science, leading to advances like the steam engine that had far-reaching implications. ‘Let the country make the railroads,’ said British railway promoter Edward Pease, ‘and the railroads will make the country.’

This book provides an inside peek at how trains function — the way the wheels set on the track, how the track fits together, how railway signals operate, how different types of locomotives work, and an up-close look at the dials, gauges, buttons, and switches that will charm any gadget-geek. It’s all nerdily detailed and irresistibly visual.

Unlike a train journey, there’s no need to start at the beginning of the book and travel linearly to the end; this is one of those books you can pick up and flip to any page to be delighted.

The text and photos work together like a hybrid of a graphic novel and a catalog, so you can easily absorb the information — and, perhaps, decide which era of train travel is your ideal. Are you an early adopter, riding the steam rails of the 1800s — or more glamorous, handing off your luggage to a porter before stepping aboard a teak-and-brocade Pullman car?

This visual encyclopedia will inspire you to start planning your next adventure on the mode of transportation explorer Henry Morton Stanley called ‘the true harbinger of civilization.’

Railways capture our imagination. They speak to our soul. The elemental attractions of fire and steam, the fascination of technology, and the glamour of connecting faraway places have all helped cement the place of railways in human hearts. — DK Publishing

illustration of a vintage train

illustration of a vintage train and map of route in australia

photos of the luxury train called palance on wheels in india

keep reading

All aboard for a fascinating virtual journey on train tracks. In this episode, we explore train history and proclaim trains the best mode of transportation, then we share books we love that put us right on the rails.

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