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Shorter Book Reviews 121 the structure of the book, one expects to find the biographies of B.B. King, Dizzy Gillespie, Ray Charles and Louis Armstrong in the black life section. The editors place them in the chapter on music, no doubt wishing to convey the importance of these musicians to Southern music as a whole. Why then does the reader find biographies of Martin Luther King and Frederick Douglass in the black life section? Surely, the far-reaching contributions of these leaders warrant their placement in the chapters on Southern history or politics. Despite shortcomings, the Encyclopedia of Southern Culture offers readers a vast array of material. It certainly proves useful for refreshing the memories of scholars, for introducing students to the many aspects of the South or simply for providing the interested reader with a wealth of knowledge on a fascinating region. MarkI. Greenberg Department of History University of Florida George W. Hilton. American Narrow GaugeRailroads. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1990. xvii + 580 pp. Maps and illus. This lavish and hefty tome is a coffee-table book only in weight and appearance. A work of massive scholarship, it is the culmination of an influential academic career of thirty years. A senior economist at UCLA, Hilton has written in two apparently distinct styles of scholarship. He is one of the most influential of the cadre of scholars, drawn from both the political right and left, whose critical analysis of the high costs of government regulation of business laid theoretical groundwork for the crusade to deregulate "public-service" industries and, more broadly, for the return to a laissez-fairemodel of the economy which triumphed politically in the 1980s. Since the notion of markets regulated in the public interest was a cornerstone of centrist, pragmatic liberalism from the 1910s down to the mid-1970s, Hilton (along with Canadian Gabriel Kolko at the opposite end of the political spectrum) is one of those whose work meshed with events to discredit that liberalism and bring on the contemporary polarization between absolutist, axiomatic right and absolutely-deconstructive left. Hilton's second scholarly achievement, culminating in American Narrow GaugeRailroads, may seem unrelated at first glance. He has written 122 Shorter Book Reviews illustrated biographies of two railroad corporations, and three massive, comprehensive surveys of "niche"transport technologies which enjoyed brief moments of importance but (perhaps therefore) have become cult objects for railway and technology buffs: cable cars, electric inter-urban railways ("radials"in Ontario) and now light railways built to a gauge narrower than the British standard of 4'8½". Although the books are probably read largely by buffs, all three are tough-minded analyses of revealing experiments in the history of finance and technology. Indeed, when one grasps the central question driving these forays into what might seem "antiquarian" scholarship, the two tracks of Hilton's work merge into one--the effort to establish and apply an absolute norm of economic rationality with which to appraise the value of investments in transport. The particular system of rationality used is a narrow and apparently precise one, drawn from neo-classical economics, rather than the plurality of standards that most professional historians would be likely to use. Was this particular investment and, more broadly, was this general kind of investment, a rational one in terms of contemporary experience and analysis? Or, on the other hand, was the crusade in the 1870s and 1880sto promote lighter, cheaper, more flexible railway technology an example of the boosterism, the dream of quick wealth exploited from resources and investors,which characterized Mark Twain's Gilded Age? Some such central question links the thick description of promotion, technology,finance and operations gathered in this book. It is organized into two approximately equal parts: nine chapters constituting a history and analysis of the narrow gauge seen as a distinct industry; and then individual biographies of every "slim-gauge" railway which ever had common-carrier legal status, that is, was registered with the government as undertaking to carry anyfreight presented to it. (The book is not definitive, since it eschews coverage of the substantial mileage operated by private corporations as part of mine or forest-mill operations, a usage which probably maximized their...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1710-114X
Print ISSN
0007-7720
Pages
pp. 121-124
Launched on MUSE
2019-01-02
Open Access
No
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