“Jack, did you hear the whistle? Live your life with passion, son. Always listen for the whistle.”
In 1984, the Illinois Central Gulf Railroad sold a 100-mile line of railroad track to retired USAF pilot and real estate entrepreneur, Jack Haley, who had a dream to buy a railroad. A year later on Christmas Eve 1985, Jack, as president and chief executive, took possession of their Iowa Division, renaming it the Chicago, Central & Pacific Railroad, having secured a $75 million cash loan with General Electric. It was the largest privately-funded American railroad company formed in the 20th century to a non-railroad entity. Overshadowed by controversy and his tenure short, he became legendary as the short line and regional operator in the United States who helped change the railroad industry forever.
Jack approached living with unbridled enthusiasm. As he entered the last decade of his life, working as CEO of his company, flying his airplane, and traveling like a gypsy, his desire to live every day to the fullest never dimmed. He never stopped hearing the whistle. This is his story.
Idea: Buhrman starts with an homage dedicated to her late father, and ends up with a thrilling story about a man who was driven to fulfill his dreams, no matter how far-fetched they may seem. As fascinating as it is educational, Hear the Whistle is an interesting foray into the life of a man who loved trains, planes, and shooting for the moon.
Prose: Generally, the prose is easy to understand and vivid. Technical passages--particularly those relating to trains--provide texture and verisimilitude.
Originality: The subject behind this work led a fascinating and unusual life. Readers will welcome the details about Jack Haley's life and his uncommon aspirations.
Character/Execution: Buhrman writes with a loving touch and shows a knack for establishing settings, developing characters, and crafting dialogue.
Date Submitted: January 31, 2022
Jack Haley epitomized the ethic of entrepreneurialism so crucial to the development of business in America. In this loving portrait of her father Kathy Burhman shows how Jack Haley succeeded as a pilot, a railroad executive and as a businessman while being true to his roots, his faith, and his family. A nicely drawn portrait of a businessman who made a difference in late 20th century railroading.