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This fictionalized account of a young prospector and entrepreneur's gold rush adventures is presented as if it were an actual historical document recorded between 1849 and 1851. Both an editor's note at the outset and an afterword by Marc Aronson stress the fact that Thomas Hartley's existence cannot be verified. That said, Hartley's journey takes himself and two companions from Connecticut to the California gold fields via the Panama land passage and, ultimately, two years later, back again (wealthier and wiser) to reunite with his family and sweetheart. An antique-looking ledger sheet records his income and expenses on each page as he earns and loses money in various exploits, which include meeting greedy con men, gold strikes, and gambling losses in San Francisco. Old-fashioned language and tongue-in-cheek humor are used throughout. An excellent list of further reading and online resources accompanies the "Encyclopedia of the Gold Rush," in which unusual words and historical figures are defined and described. Richly illustrated with a mix of historically authentic lithographs and "Thomas Hartley's" drawings, this book is a colorful and lively introduction to the period for young history buffs.-Madeline J. Bryant, Los Angeles Public Library