2019 GOLDEN SPIKE CONFERENCE
MAY 8-11, 2019Salt Lake City, Utah
From the organizers —TWO INCREDIBLE BOOKS TELL THE STORY OF THE CHINESE RAILROAD WORKERS
Gordon H. Chang and Shelley Fisher Fishkin, editors., with Hilton Obenzinger and Roland Hsu
Stanford University Press, Spring 2019
The Chinese and the Iron Road is the first book to present a comprehensive history of Chinese who helped complete America’s first transcontinental railroad.
The Chinese and the Iron Road recovers the neglected history of Chinese workers who made up about ninety percent of the workforce that constructed the Central Pacific Railroad. The history of the Chinese railroad workers has traditionally been folded into a national history of the culmination of “manifest destiny” linking the two coasts of North America when in 1869 the Golden Spike connected the Central Pacific to the Union Pacific at Promontory Summit, Utah.
This book reveals the Chinese workers through transnational perspectives, and engages readers interested in a range of disciplines to explore our heretofore-unanswered questions: Who were the Chinese who built the railroad? How did they travel across the Pacific? Where were their homes in China, and how did they experience life in the American West? What was their daily life on the line? How did they perform such arduous work? What were their spiritual beliefs? What did they do after the railroad was completed? What did they send back to China? What is their place in our cultural memory?
This book documents and interprets the history of the Chinese railroad workers and contributes to our knowledge of core subjects of immigration across the Pacific, Asian American history, the history of the railroad, and the development of the American West.
Gordon H. Chang
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Spring 2019
From across the sea, they came by the thousands, escaping war and poverty in southern China to seek their fortunes in America. Converging on the enormous western worksite of the Transcontinental Railroad, the migrants spent years dynamiting tunnels through the snow-packed cliffs of the Sierra Nevada and laying tracks across the burning Utah desert. Their sweat and blood fueled the ascent of an interlinked, industrial United States. But those of them who survived this perilous effort would suffer a different kind of death—a historical one, as they were pushed first to the margins of American life and then to the fringes of public memory.
In this groundbreaking account, award-winning scholar Gordon H. Chang draws on unprecedented research to recover the Chinese railroad workers’ stories and celebrate their role in remaking America. An invaluable correction of a great historical injustice, The Ghosts of Gold Mountain returns these “silent spikes” to their rightful place in our national saga.