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Re: PC: "Wreck of the Penn Central"

> Could anyone list some of the major errors in "Wreck of the Penn
> Central". I'm about to start reading it but from what I hear it's 
> not all gospel truth.

The errors are not so much of fact, but of conclusions. The authors make
a big deal of the financial dealings of the managers. These misdealings
did happen, but the conclusion that the officers caused the failure is
incorrect. The Bevan stock dealings, for example, at worst were just a
minor sideshow. 

The authors make a lot of trivia, such as how senior PC officers didn't
commute on PC trains or that the head of one of the non-rail subsidiaries
was involved with a well-endowed model. The authors also make a lot of
noise about the non-rail subsidiaries draining capital, ignoring the fact
the the subsidiaries stood a chance of making a profit to keep the rest
of the corporation afloat.

The book lacks the perspective of history. This book was rushed out just
after the bankruptcy, years before the formation of Conrail. If this book
was written in the Nineties, it would focus on how the railroad industry
was fundamentally sick in this era, and that nothing could have saved the
Penn Central short of the reforms of the late Seventies and the Eighties.

If you read the book with its faults in mind you won't be mislead. I
don't mean to sound overly critcal of this book. It is a must for any
student of the Penn Central, but too many people treat this book as the
gospel, ingoring faults and omissions.

Bryan Turner

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