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Mr. McCommons gives us three books in one here. The first is an entertaining personal travelogue, recounting his travels--mostly on Amtrak--by train over the course of a year spent investigating the state of American passenger rail service. The second is a rather depressing account of how badly that service has been allowed to deteriorate. Though he loves the rails himself, he makes no bones about how frustrating it can be to try to utilize them for travel in their current state. The third is an impassioned argument for restoring the system so that iot can once again offer an efficient and effective transportation alternative to air and highway travel. Written before the recent recession made the idea of railway infrastructure seem sexy, it affords a disturbing look at how much work we have before us to realize the ambition of restoring rail travel as an integral part of American life, but convinces that the effort would be well worth our while.


Grade: (B+)


See also:

James McCommons Links:

    -FACULTY PAGE: James McCommons, Associate Professor (Northern Michigan University)
    -FORWARD: It's Time to Rebuild Our Passenger Railroad System: Restoring the American railroad system is an excellent place to start recovering our sense of national purpose and faith in collective enterprise. (James Howard Kunstler, Waiting for a Train)
    -FACEBOOK PAGE: Waiting on a Train
    -GOOGLE BOOK: Waiting on a Train
    -BOOK SITE: waiting on a Train (Chelsea Green)
    -EXCERPT: from Waiting on a Train (James McCommons, Saturday Evening Post)
    -EXCERPT: Grand Canyon Railway Offers Glimpse of the Past (James McCommons, Waiting on a Train)
    -AUDIO LECTURE: James McCommons (Kansas City Public Library, May 27, 2010)
    -ESSAY: A high-speed zip across Europe by train: A father and son discover that getting around Europe is a breeze, thanks to the high-speed and regional train service. Good thing, since the stations are a bit on the brisk side. (James McCommons, June 20, 2010, LA Times)
    -ESSAY: Rails and ski trails lure fans of trains and the slopes to Izaak Walton Inn (James McCommons, 3/03/09, The Oregonian)
    -ESSAY: The Great Escape: Traveling by train might sound old-fashioned, but it remains one of the best, most environment-friendly ways to see some of America’s wildest places. Here are 10 trips of a lifetime. (James McCommons, October 2009, Audobon Magazine)
    -ESSAY: Full steam ahead along the Milwaukee Road: A bike ride in the Bitterroot Mountains of Montana and Idaho follows the Milwaukee Road's rail route. (JAMES MCCOMMONS, 9/04/10, Star Tribune)
    -ESSAY: High-Speed Rail Grants Favor the Prepared (James McCommons, 2/08/10, Huffington Post)
    -ESSAY: The Great Escape (James McCommons, Sep 07 2010, Well Sphere)
    -ESSAY: Before They Go Abroad (James McCommons, August 2006, Better Homes and Gardens)
    -ESSAY: Saving For Your Grandkids (James McCommons, February 2006, Better Homes and Gardens)
    -ESSAY: Last-Ditch Rescues: All across America, as bulldozers stand ready to turn habitat into houses, squads of volunteers are swooping in, salvaging native cacti, sedges, shrubs, and trees just in the nick of time. (James McCommons, September 2003, Audubon)
    -ESSAY: On Top of Old Whiskey (JAMES McCOMMONS, December 22, 1996, NY Times)
    -PROFILE: Amtrak pitiful now but there's rail hope (Brian O'Neill, 5/30/10, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
    -PROFILE: Author's study of Amtrak helps explain MARC as well: Professor spent year on rails to learn what works, what doesn't (Baltimore Sun, August 15, 2010)
    -INTERVIEW: What's the Future of Passenger Railroad?: (Interview with James McCommons) Bright, we hope. (Makenna Goodman, Nov 20, 2009,
    -INTERVIEW: Is the Train Due: A conversation with James McCommons about traveling by rail in America (Syracuse University Magazine, Summer 2010)
    -INTERVIEW: with James McCommons (Rail Magazine)
    -AWARD: Library Journal Best Books of 2009
    -ARCHIVES: James McCommons (Huffington Post)
    -ARCHIVES: James McCommons (Audubon)
    -REVIEW: of Waiting on a Train by James McCommons (Phillip Longman, Washington Monthly)
    -REVIEW: of Waiting on a Train (David Jackson, New Republic)
    -REVIEW: of Waiting on a Train (Carter Jefferson, Internet Review of Books)
    -REVIEW: of Waiting on a Train ()
    -REVIEW: of Waiting on a Train (December)
    -REVIEW: of Waiting on a Train (Fearful Symmetries)
    -REVIEW: of Waiting on a Train (Arthur Frommer, Frommers)
    -REVIEW: of Waiting on a Train (Transit Wisdom)
    -REVIEW: of Waiting on a Train (Kent N. Gourdin, Defense Transportation Journal)
    -REVIEW: of Waiting on a Train (Adera Causey , Chattanooga Times)
    -REVIEW: of Waiting on a Train (Ray Hainer, Next American City)
    -REVIEW: of Waiting on a Train (ForeWord Reviews)
    -REVIEW: of Waiting on a Train (Kurt Cobb , Energy Bulletin)
    -REVIEW: of Waiting on a Train (Erik Curren, Transition Voice)

Book-related and General Links:

    -ESSAY: The Increase in America's Population Is Among The Most Important Reasons For Expansion of Amtrak (Arthur Frommer, 2/4/2010, Frommers)
    -ESSAY: Back on Track?: ­A show devoted to the early impact of trains opens just as railways in the United States are showing new signs of life. (Tom Vanderbilt, September 17, 2008, Metropolis)
    All stations but America: why the US can't fall in love with rail (Shilpa Kameswaran, 23 February 2011, OpenDemocracy)