The Liberation Line

The Untold Story of How American Engineering and Ingenuity Won World War II

New Release


By Christian Wolmar

Formats and Prices




$44.00 CAD

The epic story of the engineers and rail workers who ensured Allied victory in World War Two, published to coincide with the eightieth anniversary of D-Day, by an award-winning expert on trains and transportation 

They certainly were not soldiers, yet they suddenly found themselves in uniform, in a foreign land. But, as locomotive drivers, track-workers, conductors, porters, signalmen, and engine cleaners, they knew how to run trains. And their job was to bring them back to life. 


The Liberation Line tells the thrilling story of the British and American railway engineers who, in the months after D-Day, worked around the clock and in great danger to rebuild the ravaged railways of Europe and keep the Allied forces fueled as they pushed on into Germany.  As territory was taken, these soldier-railroaders were close behind, rebuilding the lines, putting up telegraph wires, replacing bridges and laying track, all the while dodging bullets, shells, and booby traps. 


Tales of extraordinary feats and heroism abound, including how 10,000 men rebuilt a 135-mile-long railway in just three days; the reconstruction of the bridge over the Seine in two weeks while under bombardment; and the use of cigarette lighters as improvised signaling systems.  


Despite being critical to Allied victory, the role of the railway men has been largely forgotten or ignored. In a vivid and gripping narrative, Christian Wolmar brings to life this colorful cast of generals and engineers, without whose extraordinary bravery the liberation of France and invasion of Germany might well have foundered—and the course of history changed. 


  • “[A] genuinely fresh tale about the process during World War II… A nice surprise for military history buffs: an understudied piece of World War II lore.”
  • "In The Liberation Line, Christian Wolmar rescues military railways from obscurity... His writing is methodical, like a locomotive traveling steadily across the prairie, and authoritative, drawn heavily from official U.S. Army sources, among other archival materials."
    Wall Street Journal

On Sale
May 21, 2024
Page Count
368 pages
Hachette Books

Christian Wolmar

About the Author

Christian Wolmar has written for major international newspapers and appears frequently on TV and radio as a commentator on transport issues. His previous books include the widely acclaimed The Subterranean Railway; Fire and Steam; Blood, Iron, and Gold; Engines of War; The Great Railway Revolution; To the Edge of the World; Railways and the Raj; Cathedrals of Steam; and British Rail. He lives in London, UK. 

Learn more about this author