The Rush: America's Fevered Quest for Fortune, 1848-1853

The Rush: America's Fevered Quest for Fortune, 1848-1853

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by Edward Dolnick
     
 

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A riveting portrait of the Gold Rush, by the award-winning author of Down the Great Unknown and The Forger's Spell.

In the spring of 1848, rumors began to spread that gold had been discovered in a remote spot in the Sacramento Valley. A year later, newspaper headlines declared "Gold Fever!" as hundreds of thousands of men and women borrowed money, quit

Overview

A riveting portrait of the Gold Rush, by the award-winning author of Down the Great Unknown and The Forger's Spell.

In the spring of 1848, rumors began to spread that gold had been discovered in a remote spot in the Sacramento Valley. A year later, newspaper headlines declared "Gold Fever!" as hundreds of thousands of men and women borrowed money, quit their jobs, and allowed themselves- for the first time ever-to imagine a future of ease and splendor. In THE RUSH, Edward Dolnick brilliantly recounts their treacherous westward journeys by wagon and on foot, and takes us to the frenzied gold fields and the rowdy cities that sprang from nothing to jam-packed chaos. With an enthralling cast of characters and scenes of unimaginable wealth and desperate ruin, THE RUSH is a fascinating-and rollicking-account of the greatest treasure hunt the world has ever seen.

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Walter R. Borneman
…Dolnick skillfully peppers his account with dozens of first-person quotations and experiences, though his focus is on the hopes, journeys and realities of five varied but engaging individuals…"Here was a society," Dolnick writes of life in the mining camps, "that was cosmopolitan, rowdy, violent, brand-new, thrilled with itself when it was not horrified, exploding in size, knee-deep in wealth, with no entrenched leadership class but instead a churning, changing hierarchy based on fortunes newly made and newly lost." Such words resound as an articulate reprise of the historian Rodman W. Paul's landmark Mining Frontiers of the Far West, 1848-1880, but Dolnick has also succeeded admirably in putting a decidedly personal face on these general characteristics and in the process he has produced a highly readable and graphic account of an episode that changed America.
Publishers Weekly
05/26/2014
This headlong narrative from former Boston Globe science writer Dolnick (The Clockwork Universe) covers the tumultuous years from the discovery of gold in California to the gold bubble’s burst. Dubbed “a new history of the gold rush,” it’s new in its color and descriptive riches, all enlivened by the author’s prose. However, it doesn’t break any new ground, offer new explanations for the action-filled scenes Dolnick portrays, or change our view of the mad scramble for riches in California’s rivers. Dolnick tapped into the diaries and memoirs of men and women of the era to bring brilliantly alive the experiences of so many thousands (1% of the U.S. population) who left the East Coast, Europe, and even Asia in the search for freedom (often found, if only briefly) and wealth (mostly never found). He also emphasizes the great irony that many of those who grew rich during the gold rush did so not from the panned gold but from provisioning the miners and camp followers with their necessities. Dolnick’s compulsively readable story is one that’s rarely been told better. (Aug.)
From the Publisher
PRAISE FOR THE FORGER'S SPELL:
"A gripping historical narrative...Dolnick, a veteran science writer, knows his way around a canvas...The Forger's Spell has raised provocative questions about the nature of art and the psychology of deception."—Washington Post Book World"

Dolnick brilliantly re-creates the circumstances that made possible one of the most audacious frauds of the 20th century. And in doing so Dolnick plumbs the nature of fraud itself...an incomparable page turner."—Boston Globe"

[Dolnick] tells his story engagingly and with a light touch. He has a novelist's talent for characterization, and he raises fascinating questions."—New York Times Book Review"

The Forger's Spell is an excellent read, a swift and astute narrative written from many complex perspectives to great effect."—Chicago Sun-Times"

Pacing and prose as gripping as those of the best mystery novelist...The Forger's Spell is simply spellbinding."—Philadelphia Inquirer"

An engaging and highly amusing account of a clever craftsman. . . . On all those levels this is a delightful foray into art history and psychology"—St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Philadelphia Inquirer
"Pacing and prose as gripping as those of the best mystery novelist...The Forger's Spell is simply spellbinding."
Chicago Sun-Times
"The Forger's Spell is an excellent read, a swift and astute narrative written from many complex perspectives to great effect."
Boston Globe
"Dolnick brilliantly re-creates the circumstances that made possible one of the most audacious frauds of the 20th century. And in doing so Dolnick plumbs the nature of fraud itself...an incomparable page turner."
New York Times Book Review
"[Dolnick] tells his story engagingly and with a light touch. He has a novelist's talent for characterization, and he raises fascinating questions."
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
"An engaging and highly amusing account of a clever craftsman. . . . On all those levels this is a delightful foray into art history and psychology"
Washington Post Book World
PRAISE FOR THE FORGER'S SPELL:
"A gripping historical narrative...Dolnick, a veteran science writer, knows his way around a canvas...The Forger's Spell has raised provocative questions about the nature of art and the psychology of deception."
Kirkus Reviews
2014-07-03
The miners of the California GoldRush didn't need law and order, toothpaste or running water. They needed acourse in money management.In a bit of nicely rendered irony,Dolnick (The Clockwork Universe:Isaac Newton, the Royal Society, and the Birth of the Modern World,2011, etc.) closes this spirited account of the Gold Rush with a fiscalreckoning: The average miner earned a whopping $20 per day—no small sum—at thestart of the rush in 1848, but only $6 per day toward the end in 1852. Whatthey made went through their fingers like water, but, writes the author, theyfound treasure of another kind in the freedom they enjoyed: "They had wokenevery morning in a shabby tent or a crude cabin and dreamed that they wouldfall asleep that night as rich as Croesus." The sentiment is a touch purple,given the damage the rush wrought on the landscapes of California and thepeople who lived among them. Nonetheless, Dolnick does a good job of locatingthe sentimental core of the rush and placing it in the context of its time—justa few years, he notes, after the word "millionaire" had been coinedto describe the "exotic creatures," no more than a dozen or so, who boasted thegreatest wealth the country had ever seen. The mere existence of the word wasenough to set dreamers' hearts to fluttering about becoming one of that dozenin the faraway fields of equally exotic California, a "half-unreal locale likeChina or Egypt." Dolnick draws on the best historiography and writes winninglyof the events in question, augmenting but not supplanting the many books thathave come before this one. Readers new to Gold Rush history willfind a bonanza here—and for old hands, Dolnick provides enough freshinterpretation to keep the pages turning.
Library Journal
09/01/2014
Dolnick (The Clockwork Universe) brings to life the giddy excitement and mortal dangers of the California gold rush of 1848–55. Beginning with an overview of a penny-wise America, Dolnick follows the gold rush fever as thousands began grueling journeys west, both over land and by sea, daring to claim fortunes for themselves and their families. Included are personal accounts as well as primary source citations of notable men and women of the era, such as entrepreneur Luzena Wilson and historian J. Goldsborough Bruff. These individual insights add zest and an occasional morose perspective to the larger overview of the time period. VERDICT Energetic writing and interesting research convey the state of America before, during, and after the social liberation caused by the sudden explosion of capitalistic wealth. The text clearly communicates the emotional highs and lows felt by the "forty-niners," as opposed to more academic political histories such as Leonard L. Richards's The California Gold Rush and the Coming of the Civil War. Warmly recommended for both general and academic readers with interests in California and Western history.—Nathan Bender, Albany Cty. P.L., Laramie, WY

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780316175685
Publisher:
Little, Brown and Company
Publication date:
08/12/2014
Pages:
368
Sales rank:
741,331
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.50(d)

Meet the Author

Edward Dolnick is the author of The Forger's Spell, Down the Great Unknown and the Edgar Award-winning The Rescue Artist. A former chief science writer at the Boston Globe, he has written for The Atlantic Monthly, the New York Times Magazine, and many other publications. There are over 130,000 copies of his books in print. He lives with his wife near Washington, D.C.

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The Rush: America's Fevered Quest for Fortune, 1848-1853 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Kutziekutz More than 1 year ago
Well written and easy to read....like a novel. But it is well researched and the reader will feel the intensity, optimism, despair, etc...of te successes and not so successful. I recommended this book to three friends...each enjoyed it.