Books of Interest

Books All books listed below that do not have a link can be purchased on NARP's bookstore at If you purchase the book through this link, NARP gets a commission--yet one more way you can support NARP's efforts



  • Fast Trains: America's High-Speed Future, Louie, Emy and Nancy Bolts. (Transportation Media Enterprises, 2012). From two active members of the US High-Speed Rail Association, this photo-filled and highly accessible book uses the stories of hypothetical business and leisure travelers in the United States who have to make do with driving or flying, side by side with those in other countries who enjoy modern high-speed rail systems. It relies on an appeal to individuals' needs and desires with regards to travel, as well as statistics on high-speed rail's benefits to the economy and environment, to make the case for investment in a world-class high-speed rail network in the United States.
  • All Aboard: The Complete North American Train Travel Guide, Loomis, Jim. (Chicago Review Press, 2011). AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER An authoritative guidebook written by a NARP Council of Representatives member who travels extensively on Amtrak, VIA and other North American railroads.
  • Next Stop: Tips and Tales from a Train Commuter Macdonald, Thomas W. (, 2010). "Welcome to train travel, meet the daily commuter and see how he differs from all others, and laugh at the real life stories. You probably think that riding a train is a simple thing to do. Just get on, sit down, relax and enjoy the ride. Well, for many, that may be the case. But for those that ride the rails every day, they know that it is much more scientific. Does it matter what car to board? What seat to sit in? You may not think so. Or maybe it does." (
  • Waiting on a Train: The Embattled Future of Passenger Rail Service -- A Year Spent Riding Across America, McCommons, James. (Chelsea Green Publishing, 2009). A journalist spends an entire year (2008) traveling by train across the country seeking to find out why the United States is so far behind the rest of the industrialized world in passenger rail development. "He writes of the people he meets, the scenery, the long decline in American rail travel, and its emerging renaissance, interweaving discussions he has had with dozens of the leading minds on American passenger rail [including NARP's own Ross Capon]. ... He’s at his best when deftly connecting the lack of a salad in a dining car with bigger issues like Amtrak’s funding. Essential reading for rail fans, policymakers, and anyone curious about the future of transportation." (Library Journal review) Read an interview with the author.
  • USA By Rail, 8th Edition (2012), Pitt, John. Fully updated and released by Bradt Publications (Britain) and Globe Pequot Press (US) in 2012.  Geared toward British readers considering long-distance Amtrak trips, though useful also to Americans and available in the US.


Transportation history

  • Amtrak: Past, Present, Future, Wilner, Frank N. (Simmons-Boardman Books, 2012). A thorough account of the debate that led to Amtrak's creation and the national passenger railroad's turbulent history. Brings home the recurring realization that Amtrak's problems stem from a combination of high expectations and insufficient resources, and the lack of a consistent and reliable source of funding like that which highways and aviation enjoy. Not available on the NARP store; available only through this link.
  • Amtrak Across America: An Illustrated History, Fostik, John A. (Iconografix, 2012). A picture-filled tour though Amtrak's first 41 years of operation as the nation's intercity passenger train operator.
  • Amtrak: An American Story, National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Kalmbach Books, 2011). Amtrak's official "autobiography" for its 40th anniversary. Contains many full-color historic photos, reproductions of vintage advertisements and publications, and interviews with Amtrak employees from the front office to the front lines.
  • Internal Combustion: How Corporations and Governments Addicted the World to Oil and Derailed the Alternatives, Black, Edwin. (New York, 2006). Read a review by NARP Vice Chair Jim Churchill
  • Trains Across the Continent Daniels, Rudolph. (Indiana, 2001). Covers the political, economic, technological, and social aspects of railroad history in the U.S. and Canada
  • Twilight of the Great Trains, Frailey, Fred W. (Indiana, 2010). A thorough, first-hand account of passenger train travel in the United States between World War II and the creation of Amtrak (1970), describing all the trains that were lost and how some railroads actively discouraged ridership on their passenger trains, while others provided top-notch service to the end.
  • Getting There: The Epic Struggle Between Road and Rail in the American Century, Goddard, Stephen. (Chicago, 1994). Tells the story of how government joined automakers, industry and road-builders to create a self-perpetuating highway system, and what that has done to American railroading.
  • Limiteds, Locals, and Expresses in Indiana, 1838-1971, Sanders, Craig.  (Bloomington, 2003). Exhaustive, well-footnoted, railroad-by-railroad discussion of Indiana’s passenger train history with maps, photos and index. The author is a railroad enthusiast who teaches journalism and mass media communications at Cleveland State University.
  • Train Time: Railroads and the Imminent Reshaping of the United States Landscape, Stilgoe, John R. (University of Virginia Press, 2007). From Amazon: "Unlike many United States industries, railroads are intrinsically linked to American soil and particular regions. Yet few Americans pay attention to rail lines...(Stilgoe) picks up where his acclaimed work "Metropolitan Corridor" left off, carrying his ideas about the spatial consequences of railways up to the present moment...Stilgoe posits a future for railways as powerful shapers of American life."
  • Still Standing: A Century of Urban Train Station Design, Brown, Christopher. (Indiana, 2005). Outlines the history and development of large urban stations throughout the Western world.
  • The Men Who Loved Trains, Loving, Rush. (Indiana University Press, 2008). "The fascinating saga about one of the oldest and most romantic enterprises in the land -- America's railroads -- "The Men Who Loved Trains" introduces some of the most dynamic businessmen in America. Here are the chieftains who have run the railroads, including those who set about grabbing power and large salaries for themselves, as well as others who truly loved the industry." (
  • The Passenger Train in the Motor Age: California’s Rail and Bus Industries, 1910-1941 Vuchic, Vukan R. Transportation for Livable Cities (New Jersey, 1999)


Transportation and energy policy

  • Transport Revolutions: Moving People and Freight Without Oil, Gilbert, Richard and Anthony Perl, (London, 2008). Proposes ways to reduce our dependence on oil-based transport. The authors argue that land transport in the first half of the 21st century will feature a revolutionary shift towards electronic drives powered from the grid. They explain why electric trains will be a non-negotiable part of most countries' transportation future. The book goes on to discuss marine transport, whose future is less clear, and aviation, which could see the most dramatic breaks from current practice. Not available on Amazon website
  • New Departures: Rethinking Rail Passenger Policy in the Twenty-First Century, Perl, Anthony. (University Press of Kentucky, 2002). The author, a long-time NARP member and former NARP intern, is Director of the Urban Studies Program at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, British Columbia, and a member of VIA Rail Canada's Board of Directors. From the Post Carbon Institute: "North America faces a transportation crisis. Gas-guzzling SUVs clog the highways and air travelers face delays, cancellations, and uncertainty in the wake of unprecedented terrorist attacks. New Departures closely examines the options for improving intercity passenger trains' capacity to move North Americans where they want to go."
  • Straphanger: Saving Our Cities and Ourselves from the Automobile, Grescoe, Taras. (Times Books, 2012). Examines 13 major cities in the world to show how non-car-dependent development patterns contribute to their vibrancy and high quality of life.  NARP member Tony Turrittin writes, "While Grescoe's focus is on urban transit, he is also sold on trains for intercity travel. He's experienced Europe's passenger trains, including high speed rail, and is dismayed that quality rail service in the U.S. is limited to the Northeast Corridor, to the Capitol Corridor in California, and to the Pacific Northwest's Cascades. Elsewhere in Canada and the U.S., the limited train services that exist are held hostage to the freight railways. Holding back a network of high performance trains "... is the idea that a transportation system that can't pay its way has no reason to exist" (p. 264), with subsidies to roads and the air mode conveniently ignored."
  • The Elephant in the Bedroom: Automobile Dependence and Denial, Goddard, Stephen B., Stanley Hart and Alvin Spivak. (New Paradigm Books, 1993). Examines the many ways in which the use of private motor vehicles is subsidized, including the giving of large amounts of high-value urban land and municipal services to motorists and the trucking industry. The authors, both engineers, propose full-cost pricing of all automobiles, highways, and automobile by-products as a way to correct historical mistakes.
  • America’s Undeclared War: What’s Killing Our Cities and How We Can Stop It, Lazare, Daniel. (Harcourt, 2008). Review by NARP's Sean Jeans Gail: Part social history, part agitprop, “Undeclared War” provides an often provocative historical account of the migration of the American population out from the city center and into the suburban periphery. Daniel Lazare crafts a scathing account of the forces behind this transformation, classing the federal government’s policies of subsidizing suburban growth–through road projects and tax breaks, to name but a few–as “urban manslaughter.” Lazare has drawn accusations of allowing his socialist-leaning political views to undermine the objectivity (and possibly coherence) of his critique of suburban life. No one, however, faults the fervor with which he sounds the call for an end to an unsustainable byproduct of the mid-twentieth-century American era of overabundance.
  • $20 Per Gallon: How the Inevitable Rise in the Price of Gasoline Will Change Our Lives for the Better, Steiner, Christopher. (Grand Central Publishing, 2009). Steiner takes readers on a tour of the fundamental societal changes North America will undergo as the price of fossil fuels continues to rise, including that "trains will [once again] become the mode of national transportation."
  • Allies of the Earth: Railroads And the Soul of Preservation, Runte, Alfred. (Truman State University Press, 2006). From Amazon: "What did America lose with the decline of the passenger train? Much more than most Americans think. The greatest loss is the alliance between technology and the land, according to public historian Alfred Runte. Once abandoning railroads would have been unthinkable, but we have virtually forgotten the importance of trains for our country and for ourselves. Now the landscape suffers in our mindless rush to get rid of old technology and blindly embrace the new."
  • Green Metropolis: Why Living Smaller, Living Closer and Driving Less are Keys to Sustainability, Owen, David. (Riverhead Books, 2009). Explains why the problem with cars isn't that they don't get enough miles per gallon or that they aren't alternatively fueled, but that they make it too easy for people to spread out, thereby encouraging inherently unsustainable forms of development. The coming end of cheap oil, Owen contends, will force Americans to downsize, live closer to each other, and largely move away from personal automobiles, which won't diminish our quality of life, but rather enhance it.
  • Urban Transit Systems and Technology, Vuchic, Vukan R. (Michigan 2007)
  • The World Without Us, Weisman, Alan. (2007). Read a review by NARP Vice Chair Jim Churchill


General reading

  • Bridge over the Valley, Friedly, Gary A. (Langdon Street Press, 2010). This novel follows the story of two young men, one a farmer's son from North Dakota and the other the son of a wealthy Seattle businessman, as their lives intersect aboard the Mountain Daylight, a fictional streamlined train plying the route through southern Montana and North Dakota once (and, with our efforts, to again be) served by Amtrak's North Coast Hiawatha. The author is a NARP member.
  • All Aboard for Christmas, Jennison, Christopher. (New York, 2004). A delightful collection of observations about riding on and working on passenger and freight trains at Christmastime.


Children's Books

  • Train, Cooper, Elisha (Orchard Books, 2013). Beautifully illustrated story that goes across the country from New York to San Francisco, showing a commuter train, (intercity) passenger train, freight train, overnight train, and a high-speed train, what life is like on board the passenger trains, and what the freight trains carry. Great introduction to trains in America for early elementary school readers.


Films on DVD

  • Trainsforming America, Sansom, Rebecca A. (writer, producer, director) (2011). "A bold journey to change the future of transportation in the US." An engaging, informative and visually stunning first-person perspective on the ease of train travel in Europe and Japan versus the hassle and rising cost of flying and driving in the US. An eye-catching advocacy piece by a young filmmaker, geared towards the Millennial generation. Runtime: 1 hour.
  • Amtrak: The First 40 Years, 1971-2011, Luckin, Rich (producer, director) (2010). "Takes a look inside Amtrak's past, present and future through the eyes of those who have shaped it and will lead it through generations to come." Includes extensive quotes from NARP President Ross Capon and other veterans of passenger railroading, policy and advocacy. Watch a 3-minute preview here. Runtime: 54 minutes.


Other publications (print and electronic) and websites of interest