"The Sun King used to entertain his guests by giving them rides on the Roulette, a kind of roller coaster built in the garden of his chateau at Marly, near Verailles, in 1691. It was a carved and gilded carriage on wheels that thundered down an eight-hundred-foot wooden track into a valley and, thanks to its momentum, up the other side -- much to the amusement of the king's bewigged guests."
p. 4, The Great Railroad Revolution. Christian Wolmar.
Last week, I finished Charles C. Mann's 1493 and a social history of cows, both of which would have been reviewed over the weekend had I not spent it going to three Christmas parties. (Well, one was a Hanukkah breakfast...) I'd started The Age of Voltaire with the intention of reading at least one more chapter of the Story of Civilization before civilization ends in ten days (I jest, of course, but it's been a while since I've read one), but then...I found out that my library has a copy of Christian Wolmar's newest work, The Great Railroad Revolution, which covers the intersection of the railroads and America's past and future. And to think the day before I ordered a book on the history of steam transportation. So, trains first, then Voltaire. I'm also intending to finish The Humans Who Went Extinct. I'd managed to find it, but now I've lost it again. Tricky Neanderthals..