It is important for the reader to understand that by the mid-1970s, although there were originally half-dozen or so US manufacturers of diesel locomotives, only General Motors and General Electric were producers, with GE still a minority supplier.
In the book, many examples of those locomotives built by the non-GM manufacturers are displayed, along with a preponderance of vintage GMs manufactured by the early 1970s. The objective is to provide a wide variety of historical equipment in operation. With one exception, the locomotives shown were all in service or stored serviceable.
Parks begins as any traveler might: "A train is a train is a train, isn’t it?" But soon he turns his novelist’s eye to the details, and as he journeys through majestic Milano Centrale station or on the newest high-speed rail line, he delivers a uniquely insightful portrait of Italy. Through memorable encounters with ordinary Italians—conductors and ticket collectors, priests and prostitutes, scholars and lovers, gypsies and immigrants—Parks captures what makes Italian life distinctive: an obsession with speed but an acceptance of slower, older ways; a blind eye toward brutal architecture amid grand monuments; and an undying love of a good argument and the perfect cappuccino.
Italian Ways also explores how trains helped build Italy and how their development reflects Italians’ sense of themselves from Garibaldi to Mussolini to Berlusconi and beyond. Most of all, Italian Ways is an entertaining attempt to capture the essence of modern Italy. As Parks writes, "To see the country by train is to consider the crux of the essential Italian dilemma: Is Italy part of the modern world, or not?"
Train Wreck details numerous crashes, including 17 in which more than 200 people were killed. Readers follow investigators as they sift through the rubble and work with computerized event recorders to figure out what happened. Using a mix of eyewitness accounts and scientific explanations, Bibel draws us into a world of forensics and human drama.
Train Wreck is a fascinating exploration of
* runaway trains
* bearing failures
* metal fatigue
* crash testing
* collision dynamics
* bad rails