Books & Literature

Book Review: Steam Australia: Locomotives That Galvanised the Nation, by Tim Fischer

The fascinating story of steam transportation over ten vital decades of transformation in Australia’s history, featuring over 300 exciting images from the superb National Library John Buckland collection of photography, many never seen before.

If you have even the slightest interest in steam locomotives or have a train enthusiast on your Christmas gift list, you need this beautiful book.

Illustrated with historic photographs, mostly in black and white, and written in a captivating style, this book will have coffee table pride of place in my home. It can be picked up and easily read chapter-by-chapter or by opening to any page. The information and photography makes it hard to put down.

The history of the trials and successes of the steam locomotion, as both a passenger conveyance and a work horse to provide efficient haulage of wool, coal and wheat, are chronicled with comments. Fischer provides insight on the process involved and the political landscape in specific areas of the States.

Fischer explains the difficulties in the differing sizes of rail gauges and highlights the locomotive styles that used each. His detailed passages about locomotive specifications and the political battles over service provision, along with the role steam played in the development of the economy and defence in Australia, will enlighten and captivate.

This book starts with a poignant dedication, is arranged into a foreword, introduction, eleven chapters and a conclusion entitled Steam Will Live On. It includes both a list of illustrations and an index. The format chosen, giving maps and asides a sepia appearance, gives added appeal to anyone who has picked up this book and who is flipping through the pages.

This book is a treasure in the making.

Reviewed by Leanne Caune

Rating out of 10:  9

Distributed by: National Library of Australia
Released: November 2018
RRP: $39.99

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