Precious Dust: The American Gold Rush Era : 1848-1900

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9780688105662: Precious Dust: The American Gold Rush Era : 1848-1900

Material culled from letters, diaries, and other firsthand accounts reconstructs the experience of people involved in the Gold Rush, showing not only what propelled them westward but how they met the challenges of their journey. 35,000 first printing.

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From Library Journal:

Unlike William Greever's Bonanza West (1963), which relies heavily upon secondary sources, Marks ( And Die in the West , LJ 6/15/89) effectively blends diaries and letters into a masterful narrative in this history of the gold rushes. Although most of the miners in these rushes were European American males, Marks is to be credited for including the voices of women and people of color. As with J.S. Holliday's The World Rushed In (1981), Marks places much emphasis on the California rush, although she incorporates material from rushes in other parts of the United States and Canada. The first chapter provides a chronological overview, while subsequent chapters cover the means used to get to the rushes, extracting gold, life in the diggings, community development, and the rushes' larger significance. One strength of the book is the smooth blending of the sources with contemporary historical scholarship. Highly recommended for public libraries and undergraduate collections.
- Daniel Liestman, Seattle Pacific Univ. Lib.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Publishers Weekly:

Beginning with the 1848 discovery of gold in California, the next 50 years saw thousands of "argonauts" (people searching for gold) leave their families to follow the trail of new discoveries in the American West, Alaska and the Canadian Yukon. Marks ( And Die in the West ) examines these pilgrimages in a scholarly study that considers seemingly every aspect of the prospectors' experiences. Although few remained wealthy from the profits of their "diggins," and many never struck gold at all, Marks posits that the sense of freedom and the spirit of adventure permeating the quest compensated for the failures and hardships. Drawing on firsthand accounts, the author describes the severe weather and transit conditions that killed many seekers, as well as the lack of decent food and shelter at the sites. She also details the difficulties experienced by minority argonauts and provides a historical overview of the Western expansion that resulted from the gold rushes. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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