Sunday, June 19, 2011

Book Review Number 1

I just received a review of my book from Steve Boyko. Steve is a Winnipeg railfan, photographer and blogger. Steve's blog Confessions of a Train Geek is located prominently in my sidebar on my main blog, Trackside Treasure. When he bought his copy, Steve said he'd review the book. I appreciate the thought Steve has put into his review, most of which follows in italics. Pictured above are VIA No 1 and No 2 at Winnipeg in 1980.

I'm going to start by saying what the book is not.
  • It is not a coffee table picture book.
  • It is not an exhaustive history of VIA Rail.
  • It is not a Greg McDonnell book.
So... what is it? Physically, it is a 114-page book, containing mostly text with some black and white photos, soft cover and perfect bound. Eric is selling it for $25 (including shipping in Canada). Trackside with VIA is divided into six sections, by "era", plus a bonus section:
  • 1976-81 / Beginnings
  • 1982-86 / Potpourri
  • 1987-90 / New Power
  • 1991-95 / End of Steam
  • 1996-00 / Transition
  • 2001-11 / Renaissance
  • Western Trips
Each section has a page of text talking about the changes in VIA during the period, together with a half dozen or so black-and-white photographs. The real meat of each section is a list of trains he saw during that period, with times and locations and all the engines and cars he noted for each train. We railfans call these "consists". These are a treasure trove for train researchers, as well as anyone wondering what kinds of engines and cars VIA hauled at various times in its life.

The book also includes a foreword by Jason Shron of Rapido Trains, paint transition data for the modeler, provided by Jakob Mueller, a brief VIA roster, train schedules in the Ontario-Quebec, the various Canadian/Super Continental routings, and recommended readings. I think Trackside with VIA is a book by a railfan, for railfans. This book will appeal to VIA Rail enthusiasts, and train enthusiasts in general. I don't think the "general public" (whoever that is) would really enjoy it, and they are not the intended audience.

The book is well written, with very few typos, well laid out, and it is professionally printed. I love the cover - it is very reminiscent of VIA timetables from days gone by.

This is a quality product.

I recommend Trackside with VIA: The First 35 Years to anyone with a serious interest in railways, especially the history of VIA Rail. As Eric notes in his recommended reading section, there have been very few serious books on VIA Rail. Now there is one more.


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