310 China Review International: Vol. 24, No. 4, 2017 Elisabeth Köll. Railroads and the Transformation of China. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2019. xi, 396 pp. Hardcover $39.95, ISBN 978-0-674-36817-0. Today’s railroads are mature, effective technological assemblages. Their fans can be fervent, but their numbers are small. More recent manifestations of technological advance like smart phones and electronic games engender more interest and passion. Such was not the case, however, in earlier times when railroads were the embodiment of all that was modern and progressive. Nowhere has this been more evident than in China from the late nineteenth century to the present. In Railroads and the Transformation of China, Elisabeth Köll ably narrates and analyzes the economic, political, administrative, and cultural history of China’s railroads. The chapters follow the chronological development of railroads in China, beginning with the early years, which were hardly dynamic. While railroad construction surged in many parts of the world during the nineteenth century, China was a laggard, having only 195 miles of trackage prior to 1895 (p. 19). In accordance with China’s status as a “semi colony,” most of the capital and technology came from other parts of the world, primarily England, Germany, France,
China Review International – University of Hawai'I Press
Published: Dec 12, 2019
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