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Library Journal Names Waiting on a Train a Best Book of 2009

Congratulations, James McCommons! Library Journal just named your book, Waiting on a Train: The Embattled Future of Passenger Rail Service—A Year Spent Riding Across America, one of the best books of 2009.

Waiting on a Train is not only a beautifully written and thoroughly engrossing memoir—it’s an important work that brings to light a fundamental issue in American society: the stagnation, marginalization, and neglect of the passenger train, and how we can reinvigorate rail for a green energy future.

From Library Journal:

So many books, so many best books lists. What makes ours special, and how do we make our choices? …

When LJ’s book review editors sit down with our best books candidates, we’re obviously looking for the strongest writing on key topics—books that will last. But we aren’t just thinking in terms of Big Books: we’ve found that unimpeachably big books are often unimpeachably dull. So we look for a little edginess, a little risk that sets a book apart and makes us sit up and see things anew even when the narrative isn’t perfect.…

Beyond fresh, exciting writing, we’re aware that we’re not looking at books in a vacuum—there’s a dynamic to our work just as there are dynamics to the world we live in. Hence it was exciting that social sciences editor Margaret Heilbrun chose James McCommons’s Waiting on a Train: The Embattled Future of Passenger Rail Service—A Year Spent Riding Across America just as Warren Buffett purchased the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway, promising to revitalize America’s rail travel.…

In joining the author on his 2008 rail travels around the country—that is, where passenger rail still survives—readers get a fine, accessible history of American passenger and freight rail service; a travel memoir with authentically rendered portraits; and a prescription for the future of American railroads. With the country seemingly poised on the threshold of major new commitments to a mythic component of our continental history, this is crucial reading. (“Editors’ Fall Picks,” LJ 9/1/09; LJ 10/15/09)

Read the whole article here.


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