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

Little, Brown. 2014. 368p. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780316175685. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780316280556. HIST
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.
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