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California Gold Mass Market Paperback – August 1, 2001


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 768 pages
  • Publisher: Signet (August 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451203976
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451203977
  • Product Dimensions: 4.4 x 1.2 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #670,030 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

California, supposedly "the world's paradigm of hope and opportunity," is Jakes's ( North and South ) setting for this moderately satisfying novel about Mack Chance, an underdog whose ascent from poverty to affluence is a classic American success story. Like so many ambitious dreamers, Mack, an indigent Pennsylvanian, arrives in San Francisco in 1887 determined to make his fortune. To his dismay, he finds hardship, violence, bigotry, lawlessness and a city caught in the stranglehold of rapacious Southern Pacific railroad tycoons. Mack meets two bewitching women--rich, emotionally unstable Carla Hellman and dynamic Nellie Ross, a reporter for W. R. Hearst's San Francisco Examiner. After striking oil and becoming an orange grower, Mack prospers, but is left heartbroken when career-oriented Nellie won't marry him. He impulsively weds Carla, with disastrous results, while alienating many influential men by championing liberal causes. With strong commercial appeal, the novel potently conveys the raw, irrepressible vitality of California, but the historical backdrop (especially the 1906 earthquake) outshines the conventional rags-to-riches plot. Jakes's impressive research, plus his lively depictions of Hearst, Ambrose Bierce, Leland Stanford, Teddy Roosevelt and others, enriches the story considerably. Literary Guild main selection; Readers Digest Condensed Book main selection; major ad/promo.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From the Inside Flap

James Macklin Chase was a poor Pennsylvanian who dreamed of making it rich in California. But at the turn of the century, the money to be made was in oil, citrus, water rights, and the railroads. Mack would have it all, if he had his way. And along the way, the men and women he met, the passion he found, the enemies he made, and the great historical figures like William Randolph Hearts, Leland Stanford, and Theodore Roosevelt, he encountered, helped bring glory to the extraordinary century.
"Riveting...CALIFORNIA GOLD strikes pay dirt....This sweeping epic is a dynamite tribute to the sheer pluck of one man who scorns all obstacles. He instills vibrancy in all his characterizations."
RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH
A Literary Guild Main Selection --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

Jakes at his finest!!
Dale S. Brittain
Historically accurate with good character development to carry the story lines to climatic conclusion.
Hal McIlroy
For those history buffs, it gives an easy read of early California history.
Thom

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Melvin Hunt on December 1, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This was certainly a book that you could enjoy. This book also gave you a good picture of the history of California. This book chronicles the rise from poverty to massive riches for a young man from Pennylsvania. He first grows immensely wealthy by taking part in the oil industry of California. From making big money in petroleum he moves into the citrus industry. He is able to continue making money in the citrus business. His next step is in water rights. This novel also tells of some of his lady loves that he becomes familiar with. Also interesting is some of the potent enemies that he gets in the state of California. This is a good depiction of wealth and power gained in the Golden State. If you read this book you will read a good story as well as get a good history of the state of California. It is also very unique the way that John Jakes uses some historical figures from these days in this story. Read this book,you will not be dissapointed.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Erin Moore on June 26, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
California Gold has it all! Lust, greed, amition, and historical tie-ins all in one! I have read and re-read this wonderful work of fiction 6 times at last count. I never become bored with it. In fact, some of the book's fabulous historical references have even lead me on some great adventures as a tourist in both San Francisco and the Los Angeles area.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By NASCARLadybug on April 27, 2006
Format: Hardcover
What a wonderful history lesson in this fiction novel. Jakes blends the history of California and throughout the book as well as at the back, he verifies actual historical dates.

The story allowed me to understand more Sutter's Fort, the gold rush country, San Francisco and the places in and around Sacremento, Donner's Pass to Squaw Valley that I have visited.

I look forward to reading more of Mr. Jakes books.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 6, 1998
Format: Audio Cassette
I thoroughly enjoyed this exceptional novel by John Jakes. Previously I had read only the Bicentennial Series-Kent Family Chronicals, which I loved. I liked California Gold because, being from California, I loved the rich historic information. It was more than 49's and/or movie stars. I loved reading about Hearst and Bierce, and the fact that the story ends in my neck of the woods, Riverside. The California orange-growing business is under-rated. This novel incompassed virtually every aspect of history and life in California, and that is saying quite a lot!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By bobbewig TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 10, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
In California Gold, John Jakes has once again created a very engrossing story wrapped in lots of interesting history about California. As usual, his plot moves along at a brisk pace and he introduces many interesting characters -- both fictional and real-life. The main character, James Macklin Chance, is one of Jakes' more memorable ones. I'm sure you'll enjoy how he comes to California as a young man, poor financially but rich in ambition, and his adventures in building one fortune on top of another. If you enjoy historical fiction, and especially if you're a John Jakes fan, do yourself a favor and get a copy of California Gold. You'll be richer for the reading experience.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Ratmammy VINE VOICE on October 19, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
CALIFORNIA GOLD is the story of Macklin Chance, who like many others of his day, journeys to the land of California with the hopes of finding a new life and fortune. It is the start of the gold rush, and Macklin, along with thousands of others, help build the state of California in the late 1800's and early 1900's.
Macklin starts from the bottom and works his way to the top,and along the way he encounters the men that helped build California: Leland Stanford, Randolph Hearst, to name a few.
As in all John Jakes novels, CALIFORNIA GOLD is filled with a lot of history and a lot of great characters. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, although I do not feel it's Jake's best. I felt the ending was a little disappointing - can't explain it but it felt wrong to me - but otherwise this was one of those books that I couldn't put down. A must-read for all John Jakes fans!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Misfit VINE VOICE on January 16, 2009
Format: Mass Market Paperback
California Gold begins thirty years after the Gold Rush as James Macklin (Mack) Chance leaves the Pennsylvania mining town where he grew up and heads for The Golden State to make his fortune. After working and walking his way across country, Mack arrives in Oakland and is in for a rude surprise when he thinks he can stow away on the railroad's ferry across the bay and they wouldn't dare throw him overboard -oh yes they would! Once he makes it to San Francisco he witnesses a young woman jumping into the bay and fails in his attempt to "rescue" reporter Nellie Ross (much to her chagrin as he ruins her story for Hearst's newspaper) and the two begin a strong friendship that eventually turns into much more.

Mack's fortunes continue up and down as his drive and temper finally upset the movers and shakers of San Francisco and after surviving a vicious beating he leaves for Los Angeles to take old traveling companion J. Paul Wyatt up on his offer to join in with him in the "real estate" market -- selling worthless lots to unsuspecting tourists. The land boom busts (where did Wyatt originally get the funds to purchase the land from?) and the unstable Wyatt leaves Mack high and dry with creditors and angry buyers knocking at his doors. Seeing potential in the worthless tar pits of the surrounding countryside Mack seeks employment with the oil prospectors as he learns the trade - finally striking black gold and setting him on his way to fortune and power.

Despite their lifelong love for each other, Mack and Nellie's goals for their individual futures are too diverse for marriage (at least they think so) and Mack marries alcoholic Carla Hellman, daughter of wealthy land baron Swampy Hellman.
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More About the Author

John Jakes (b. 1932), the author of more than a dozen novels, is regarded as one of today's most distinguished writers of historical fiction. His work includes the highly acclaimed Kent Family Chronicles series and the North and South Trilogy. Jakes's commitment to historical accuracy and evocative storytelling earned him the title of "the godfather of historical novelists" from the Los Angeles Times and led to a streak of sixteen consecutive New York Times bestsellers. Jakes has received several awards for his work and is a member of the Authors Guild and the PEN American Center. He and his wife, Rachel, live on the west coast of Florida.

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