Although I have been a journalist virtually all my working life, over the past few years I have spent much of my time writing books, two of which are on the London Underground.
My latest book is a history of American railways, The Great Railway Revolution, which was published in the spring of 2012. It is the first such history for many years and looks at how America fell in and out of love with passenger railways. My previous book, Engines of War covers the use of railways in wartime from a strategic point of view. It looks at how railways actually enabled wars to be fought over far longer distances and to last much longer, comparing, for example, the Napoleonic wars before the railways were built with World War One.
Blood, Iron and Gold explains how railways were crucial in stimulating economic development across the world. Fire and Steam is the history of Britain’s railways, again, surprisingly, a book which broke new ground as there had been no such straightforward account since the days of Jack Simmons and Hamilton Ellis.
The Subterranean Railway, my best selling book, is the story of the development of the London Underground and how it has changed the capital. It really is a remarkable story and as with the railways, Britain is a pioneer having built the first underground line almost 40 years before any other country followed suit. I have recently updated The Subterranean Railway with an extra chapter for an edition that is out in November 2012.
All these history books are published by Atlantic Books and are available on Amazon via my website www.christianwolmar.co.uk. They all remain in print in paperback – except the latest. I have PowerPoint presentations on all of them.
Recently, Kemsing Publishing has issued two of my earlier out of print books on Kindle which are available through Amazon. On the wrong line, how ideology and incompetence wrecked Britain’s railways published in 2003 is the story of the scandal of rail privatisation which led to the virtual breakdown of Britain’s railway system following the Hatfield crash of 2000. The Kindle version has an interesting appendix, a letter from John Major explaining the reasons behind privatisation, one of the very few times he has mentioned the railway sell-off publicly. You can get it here
The other book available on Kindle is Down the Tube, the analysis of the Public Private Partnership on the London Underground which, as the book predicted, ended in tears. It is the only analysis of this disastrous policy and shows how failure was inevitable. You can get it here
Another out of print book is my collection of anecdotes about the rail privatisation process, The Great Railway Disaster, published by Ian Allen but now very difficult to obtain. My first book Stagecoach, the story of the company created by the Perth based siblings Brian Souter and Ann Gloag, will also soon be available on Kindle, with an updated chapter since it was first published in 1999.
I have also written a couple of small books aimed at schoolchildren and, more importantly, a pamphlet for Friends of the Earth published in 1997 called Unlocking the Gridlock, the key to a new transport policy, which contains many ideas that have helped shaped my thinking on transport for this campaign.
My other book, Forgotten Children, written with the help of a Rowntree Foundation grant, covered the abuse scandals in children’s homes, mostly in the 1970s and 1980s, and the reasons behind them. It argued that it was the social service policies of the time which led directly to the scandals and there is a warning that the same mistakes should not be repeated.