Stampede: Gold Fever and Disaster in the Klondike

Brian Castner. Doubleday, $28.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-385-54450-4
Journalist Castner (Disappointment River) paints a dramatic and frequently gruesome portrait of the Klondike gold rush. In July 1896, prospector George Carmack discovered in a Yukon River tributary “so much gold layered in the slabs of bedrock, he thought they looked like cheese sandwiches.” He staked two claims for himself and his brother-in-law, and rushed to the settlement of Fortymile to file legal paperwork, setting off the largest gold stampede in U.S. history. In 1897, more than 100,000 people set out for the Klondike, most of them woefully ill-prepared for the harsh conditions. According to Castner, 75% of the would-be prospectors “were shipwrecked, shot, suffocated, frozen, starved, drowned, or gave up and went home.” Castner brings the survivors to vivid life, including Arthur Arnold Dietz, who set out with 18 men across the Malaspina Glacier in Alaska to reach the gold strike. Only four survived; the rest fell in crevices, died of scurvy, suffocated in avalanches, or starved to death during their two-year ordeal. Castner also profiles Jack London, who came down with scurvy in the Klondike, and hotelier Belinda Mulrooney, who lost her fortune when Dawson City was destroyed by fire in 1899. Packed with evocative details and colorful personalities, this immersive history captures the tragic consequences of “gold fever.” (Apr.)
Reviewed on : 01/20/2021
Release date: 04/13/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
Hardcover - 336 pages - 978-0-7710-1869-5
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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