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'Alternative Tracks' provides a novel interpretation of industrialization and political development in the United States. Focusing on the critical case of railroads, Gerald Berk shows that alternative forms of economic organization and governmental regulation existed in the late nineteenth century. Constitutional choices, not technological imperatives or economic interests, determined the outcome in the twentieth century: a centralized industry regulated according to liberal principles of redistribution. 'Alternative Tracks' reveals a nineteenth-century rival to this political economy--an equally efficient and more democratic system of regional railroads regulated according to republican principles.