Christian Wolmar, one of the leading commentators on transport matters, gave a special treat last Thursday to the Coventry Conversations audience.
Wolmar has an interesting array of work, from Unlocking the Gridlock (1997) to Broken Rails (2001) to name of a few, of which he gave the audience a preview of his latest book Engines of War (2010).
Engine’s of War explores the ignored aspect of military wars; railways. Wolmar revealed that almost all wars in the 19th century used railways as the primary method of transport. Railways changed the logistics of war, but did we really know that until now? Writes Natasha De Silva…
“Railway wars are longer, bloodier and more extensive”, illustrated Wolmar with a slideshow of historical pictures of wars in the 19th century. Explaining the impact of the Civil War, Wolmar said: “more Americans died in the Civil War than all wars put together.”
Some interesting facts of history were discussed by Wolmar. Explaining his book further he revealed to the audience how the war between the Russians and the Japanese took place entirely on a railway: “The Japanese themselves built some of that railway and won every single war.”
He took the audience back to the painful Holocaust and described how “the holocaust wouldn’t have been possible without railways.” So many people wouldn’t have fit in trucks or busses; the railways helped transport them.
Did we ever think of how railways played a major role in so many wars? Wolmar’s book gives some amazing details of those historical events. So far he has sold about 20,000 copies of Engines of War.