The Klondike Fever: The Life and Death of the Last Great Gold Rushby Pierre Berton
In 1897 a grimy steamer docked in Seattle and set into epic motion the incredible succession of events that Pierre Berton's exhilarating The Klondike Fever chronicles in all its splendid and astonishing folly. For the steamer Portland bore two tons of pure Klondike gold. And immediately, the stampede north to Alaska began. Easily as many as 100,000 adventurers,
In 1897 a grimy steamer docked in Seattle and set into epic motion the incredible succession of events that Pierre Berton's exhilarating The Klondike Fever chronicles in all its splendid and astonishing folly. For the steamer Portland bore two tons of pure Klondike gold. And immediately, the stampede north to Alaska began. Easily as many as 100,000 adventurers, dreamers, and would-be miners from all over the world struck out for the remote, isolated gold fields in the Klondike Valley, most of them in total ignorance of the long, harsh Alaskan winters and the territory's indomitable terrain. Less than a third of that number would complete the enormously arduous mountain journey to their destination. Some would strike gold. Berton's story belongs less to the few who would make their fortunes than to the many swept up in the gold mania, to often unfortunate effects and tragic ends. It is a story of cold skies and avalanches, of con men and gamblers and dance hall girls, of sunken ships, of suicides, of dead horses and desperate men, of grizzly old miners and millionaires, of the land its exploitation and revenge. It is a story of the human capacity to dream, and to endure.
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Meet the Author
Pierre Berton was one of Canada’s most popular and prolific authors. From narrative histories and popular culture, to picture and coffee table books to anthologies, to stories for children to readable, historical works for youth, many of his fifty books are now Canadian classics.
Born in 1920 and raised in the Yukon, Pierre Berton worked in Klondike mining camps during his university years. He spent four years in the army, rising from private to captain/instructor at the Royal Military College in Kingston. He spent his early newspaper career in Vancouver, where at 21 he was the youngest city editor on any Canadian daily. He wrote columns for and was editor of Maclean’s magazine, appeared on CBC’s public affairs program “Close-Up” and was a permanent fixture on “Front Page Challenge” for 39 years. He was a columnist and editor for the Toronto Star and was a writer and host of a series of CBC programs.
Pierre Berton received over 30 literary awards including the Governor-General’s Award for Creative Non-Fiction (three times), the Stephen Leacock Medal of Humour, and the Gabrielle Leger National Heritage Award. He received two Nellies for his work in broadcasting, two National Newspaper awards, and the National History Society’s first award for “distinguished achievement in popularizing Canadian history.” For his immense contribution to Canadian literature and history, he was awarded more than a dozen honourary degrees, is a member of the Newsman’s Hall of Fame, and is a Companion of the Order of Canada.
Pierre Berton passed away in Toronto on November 30, 2004.
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What a fascinating history of the rich and poor, scoundrels and hopefuls, avaricious and just plain misguided argonauts of the Alaska Gold Rush! Reading it before touring Alaska would have made our recent tour more interesting. However, I enjoyed the book tremendously upon returning home. In the 1890's Alaska was truely the WILD West, and this book captures the experience in an easy-to-read style.
A thorough well written history of the larger-than-life characters and wild events that culminated in an exciting yet bizarre moment in the far American north-west. The book provides historical background to the interesting people and circumstances that preceded the gold find, how the discovery changed many lives for better and worse, and how the gold find produced a shock wave of gold fever across the continent. The personalities, unbeleivable hardships and lifestyles and the fickleness of fate and fortune are captured in a wonderfully flowing narrative. One really begins to appreciate the sacrifices, hardiness and endurance of the largely eccentric prospectors. The flavor and excitement of the wild events are colorfully reported. The many memorable anecdotes really provide a clear flavor of the times. This is how history should be learned and appreciated.