Friday, November 20, 2015


Gold! by Fred Rosen
Open Road Media: 11/17/15
eBook review copy; 352 pages
ISBN-13: 9781504024488

Gold!: The Story of the 1848 Gold Rush and How It Shaped a Nation by Fred Rosen is a recommended nonfiction account of the historical California gold rush and how it changed American culture.

When gold was discovered at Sutter's Mill in California on January 24, 1848, it infected the nation with gold fever. "Over the next six years, three hundred thousand prospectors raced to the California gold fields to make their fortunes, leaving their lands and families behind in order to chase a dream of easy wealth, but all too often encountering a reality of lawlessness, disease, cruelty, and death."

Rosen, a former columnist for the New York Times, weaves historical facts and details into this account of the real people and places of the gold rush era and the get-rich-quick mentality it ignited in average citizens.  He argues, while presenting the historical information on the discovery of gold and the subsequent gold rush, that once the common man could dream of instant wealth it fundamentally changed American culture to one of selfishness and greed.

Having read several books on the California gold rush (as well as the Black Hills discovery and the Nevada Comstock Lode which are mentioned too) I did find Rosen's account easy to read and basically informative. Since I read it while on vacation, it suited me perfectly under the circumstances. I am admittedly unsure of his Jesse James argument. Those who follow my reviews will understand that the lack of source notes and very short bibliography bothered me; I like my nonfiction to have some great notes and a thorough bibliography. 

Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of Open Road Media for review purposes.

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