Book Reviews

The Big Snow

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A fun niche novel

GWL 4 stars November 10, 2018

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase

I wish I could give it 5 stars. Mr. Boyd knows his subject, and he knows his audience; people who like trains and specifically winter operations over Donner Pass. Anyone who dares imagine The Worse Winter Ever on Donner would likely enjoy this book.

Mr. Boyd draws on an actual event from 1952, the City of San Francisco being snowbound on the mountain, and imagines how that might play out today in a winter 50% worse than any ever seen on The Hill. Yeah, it's overwhelming and then some. Mr. Boyd does a good job of creating a range of personalities that capture the vast panoramic of human nature and peoples' ability to rise to a challenge as well as shrink from it. His characters solve problems and cause problems. Boyd is skilled at upping the ante and making his characters' situations progressively more dire.

What kept the book from being a 5? As I said, the author knows his core audience and was content to write for it only. We're people who watch the videos, read the books, and basically know the subject. Boyd realizes this and doesn't offer the level of explanation needed to bring a novice up to speed. I think that omission, while lowering word count on an already lengthy book, limits the appeal to a non railroad based audience. This is a shame because what he's written is a heck of an adventure.

I recommend this book to anyone interested in railroading. Doubly so if winter railroading is your thing.


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