The Age of Gold
By the Author of the Bestselling Pulitzer Prize Finalist THE FIRST AMERICAN
THEY WENT WEST TO CHANGE THEIR LIVES AND IN THE BARGAIN THEY CHANGED THE WORLD. THIS IS THE EXTRAORDINARY STORY OF THE MEN AND WOMEN OF THE GOLD RUSH.
When gold was first discovered on the American River above Sutter's Fort in January 1848, California was sparsely populated frontier territory not yet ceded to the United States from Mexixo. The discovery triggered a massive influx as hundreds of thousands of people scrambled to California in search of riches, braving dangerous journeys across the Pacific, around Cape Horn, and through the Isthmus of Panama, as well as across America's vast, unsettled wilderness. Cities sprang up overnight, in response to the demand for supplies and services of all kinds. By 1850, California had become a state -- the fastest journey to statehood in U.S. history. It had also become a symbol of what America stood for and of where it was going.
In The Age of Gold, H. W. Brands explores the far-reaching implications of this pivotal point in U.S. history, weaving the politics of the times with the gripping stories of individuals that displays both the best and the worse of the American character. He discusses the national issues that exploded around the ratification of California's statehood, hastening the clouds that would lead to the Civil War. He tells the stories of the great fortunes made by such memorable figures as John and Jessie Fremont, Leland Stanford and George Hearst -- and of great fortunes lost by hundreds now forgotten by history. And he reveals the profound effect of the Gold Rush on the way Americans viewed their destinies, as the Puritan ethic of hard work and the gradual accumulation of worldly riches gave way to the notion of getting rich quickly.
From the Hardcover edition.
“An engrossing, multifaceted history.” –The New York Times
“A barn burner. . . . Masterfully sketched historical figures, subtly developed themes, and epically well-braided stories. . . . There’s only one thing to say . . . and that’s ‘Eureka!’ ” –San Francisco Chronicle
“Exuberant. . . . Entertaining, lively. . . . Brands [is] a wonderfully skilled narrative historian.” –Los Angeles Times
“Highly readable and entertaining. . . . History titles loom large, and perhaps none larger than The Age of Gold.” –Houston Chronicle
“A triumph. . . . Brands has struck gold.” –The Oregonian
“[H. W. Brands] will change the way you see history. . . . The Age of Gold brilliantly pans the historical record for nuggets of hardship and, in the process, hits upon a mother lode of a story.” –Austin American-Statesman
“Gripping. . . . Thoroughly researched. . . . An eminently readable, detail-filled book.” –Chicago Tribune
“A serious, comprehensive study, filled with memorable visions and interesting observations. . . . A book that explores history, politics, geology, adventure and industry with omnibus enthusiasm. . . . Its author, like the miners of the gold rush themselves, leaves no stone unturned.” –The San Diego Union-Tribune
“A fine, robust telling of one of the greatest adventure stories in history.” –David McCullough, Pulitzer Prize—winning author of John Adams
“Brands assembles a colorful collection of people swept into this craze from around the world . . . in[to] a dazzling setting that conveys the world-changing effects of this era. . . . [He is a] master storyteller.” –The Christian Science Monitor
“Few historians can tell a tale better than Brands.” –Dallas Morning News
“Populated with colorful California characters. . . . Brands makes a convincing case that the discovery of gold was a seminal event in American history.” –Boston Herald
“Fascinating. . . . Brands brings the era and its characters to life in a remarkably entertaining narrative that is meticulously researched and crisply written. . . . The Age of Gold is historical reporting at its best.” –Arizona Daily Star
From the Trade Paperback edition.