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Gold: Being the Marvellous History of General John Augustus Sutter Paperback – June, 1996


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Marlowe & Co; 1st Marlowe & Company ed edition (June 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1569248079
  • ISBN-13: 978-1569248072
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.4 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,204,095 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Leave it to a French poet to demythologize John Sutter, a Swiss thief and swindler who fled his native country one step ahead of the bill collectors. Sutter went first to New York, then Missouri, and finally ended up in California, where he set up a trading post and fort and, not coincidentally, something of a protection racket for other settlers. When a carpenter building a mill on Sutter's property found gold, he opened up the Swiss entrepreneur's private domain to hundreds and thousands of newcomers, a migration that changed the course of American history. Sutter died in 1880 in Washington, D.C., where he had gone to complain to Congress that his empire had been stripped away from him without due process. This is an altogether fascinating reconstruction of his strange and star-crossed life. --Gregory MacNamee

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: French

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Doug Anderson VINE VOICE on October 17, 2001
Format: Paperback
"On again, and the track flies beneath the swift hooves of the horses." The only reason to read this is if you love Cendrars poetry and just can't get enough of it. This book has great moments especially in the early going icluding that first glimpse of our hero in small Swiss village, as well as Sutters arrival in New York and his various careers in various kinds of swindling. Cendrars paints an interesting portrait of a man who learns all he needs to know about America from conversations had in bars. His listening gains him crucial bits of information that will shape his destiny. The journey west is great Cendrars writing full of gusto and energy but the accelerated pace of the telling only remains exciting while Sutter is in motion. After he settles down the hectic style doesn't carry the story or tell it nearly as well as it should be told. Gold is an unfinished work, an attractive but only partially completed manuscript. Interesting attempt to tell a story applying Cendrars poetic breakthroughs to novel writing though only partially successful. For Cendrars completists only. Moravagine is a much more satisfying novel by this wild Swiss traveler-poet.
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By FJNanic on May 25, 2013
Format: Paperback
I completely agree with "nomadak" -- there is a gem-like flame in Cendrar's writing. Some of his work, like BOURLINGUER or D'OULTREMER à INDIGO, is not even translated in English. The way he paints the Orinoco jungle with words says it all, and then he wraps it up with--c'est une énigme que j'ai passé toute ma vie à étudier sans en trouver le fin mot.
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By nomadak on August 10, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I believe the other two reviewers miss the mark in that it is not where Cendrars takes us as much as how he gets us there. Crisp, adventurous prose that puts you squarely on top of a train rushing down its tracks. The style fits the man it is written of and along the way we get a beautiful and accurate portrait of the disconnects between our ideals about man, society, and justice and the way things actually occur. This is truly a marvellous alternate history. This is a minor masterpiece.
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3 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Orrin C. Judd VINE VOICE on July 22, 2001
Format: Paperback
This one is a real curiosity and you may have trouble finding an English-language version of it in print. Cendrars was a poet and leader of the avant-garde in Paris in the teens and twenties. Though born in Switzerland, he traveled widely, almost restlessly, and his poetry is distinguished by its focus on action. Gold, also known as Sutter's Gold, which is perhaps his most famous prose work, seems at least partly autobiographical, as the story of John Augustus Sutter so closely resembles the basic pattern of the author's own life. Sutter too was Swiss, but he abandoned his family and emigrated to America, pulled ever westward, he eventually became extremely wealthy and one of the founders of modern California. But then gold was discovered at the site of his famous mill, and his land was overrun by hordes of 49ers. He spent the rest of his life trying to recoup his losses, through lawsuits and pleadings to the U. S. Congress, but died without ever receiving a penny.
Cendrars relates this tale in a brisk and lively manner, taking us through Sutter's life at breakneck speed. The style is almost telegraphic as he dices 121 pages of story into 16 chapters of 74 sections. That doesn't leave him much time to develop any grand themes; the most I came away with was the rather silly notion that, though eager Europeans fled to America seeking opportunity and wealth, even if they struck it rich they were ultimately ruined. France may only have been his adopted country, but this attitude reflects the bitter, envious soul of a native.
GRADE : C+
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