Stampede: Gold Fever and Disaster in the Klondike

Doubleday. Apr. 2021. 288p. ISBN 9780385544504. $28.95. HIST
Journalist and author Castner (Disappointment River) has written a compelling account of the Yukon Gold Rush of 1897–98. His description of the Panic of 1893, and the economic depression that followed, provides an understanding of why people with little or no wilderness and mining experience would leave everything and risk their lives to search for gold. The narrative highlights many of the unique personalities who lived in or traveled to Alaska and the Yukon to strike it rich—and the author tells how few of the prospectors became wealthy. Some, like Jack London, parlayed an unsuccessful gold mining expedition into a successful writing career. The vast majority of prospectors left Alaska with nothing to show for their efforts, and untold thousands died in the attempt. The Carcross/Tagish First Nation, often given short shrift in histories of the Yukon Gold Rush, receives long-overdue serious attention in Castner’s account. Like Timothy Egan did for the Dust Bowl in The Worst Hard Time, Castner combines oral histories, memoirs, and research to vividly evoke the Yukon Gold Rush through people and nature.
VERDICT Readers who enjoy history, adventure, and nature writing, and fans of Egan, Candice Millard, and Jack London, will savor this page-turner.
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