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The Rush: America's Fevered Quest for Fortune, 1848-1853 Audio Download – Unabridged

4.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Format: Hardcover
My one criticism of this book is that it isn't long enough - and if that is the only negative I can think of, you can be sure I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Dolnick has a very lively style of writing, engaging and informative, with a humorous whimsy that adds to the experience without overwhelming the narrative. I generally don't like any kind of humour or whimsy when reading history, but when relating the story of the California Gold Rush it somehow seems appropriate.

Dolnick covers the origins of the Gold Rush and the experience of the '49ers in reaching the gold fields in admirable detail, focusing especially on a handful of individuals, several couples and the rest single men. And again, this is where my criticism arises - over half the book is passed before any of these individuals have even reached California. It's all thoroughly interesting, true, but I felt that another hundred or so pages on the experiences actually in California could have been better served. A bare few chapters on the mining, the life in the shanty towns, the letters sent back home, and all the book is over. There was almost no discussion of the experience of foreigners in the field, who made up well over one third of the '49ers; very little about the tentative steps in establishing order, policing, city governance; almost nothing about how the rest of the States viewed California; almost nothing about the experience of those already in California.

So whilst I say I only have one criticism, it's a big one. This book really cannot be considered a proper overview or history of the Gold Rush with such a narrow and limited scope. I cannot believe the author couldn't find any more to say, and I'd be surprised if the limited size and coverage was due to editorial or publisher pressure. It's a mystery to me, and it really let me down as a reader. A book that I could have given five stars to if it had been twice as long only really merits an average grade in the end.
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