Most helpful positive review
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
21st century science meets 19th century adventure
on December 8, 2007
This book blends history and geology, and the result is quite unique and fascinating. The book explores the geologic history of the American West while telling the story of how gold rush pioneers crossed that rugged landscape. The author writes clearly and well about geology, and has a knack for coming up with nifty analogies to explain geologic processes. The chapter titled Cordilleran Upheaval is great, like a crash course in how everything geologically from the Rockies to California came to be. The story of gold rush pioneers is told very well, with abundant first-hand quotations to explain what it was like to travel the "hard road west" in 1849. I came away thinking that the trip of the 49ers competes with Lewis and Clark as a great adventure story. The middle part of the book moves a bit slowly, but the earlier sections on the Great Plains and Rockies, and the final chapters on the Humboldt River, desert, and Sierra Nevada are terrific. Overall highly recommended for anyone interested in the gold rush or the American West.