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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon November 19, 2005
REBEL GOLD is a better than average conspiracy book, if you're into that sort of thing. And it has the added allure of postulating the existence of a fabulous buried treasure.

Written by ex-Vietnam vet Bob Brewer and investigative journalist Warren Getler (Wall Street Journal, International Herald Tribune), REBEL GOLD describes the former's twenty-five year quest to establish the existence and location of Confederate gold and silver caches buried by the pro-secessionist Knights of the Golden Circle in the anticipation that they could one day be used to further a second Civil War. Along the way, Brewer associates the Knights with the Scottish Rite Freemasons, Scottish freedom fighters, the medieval Knights Templar, and the post-Civil War outlaw activities of cousins Jesse Woodson James and Jesse Robert James. (Gee, there was more than one?) Brewer concludes that Jesse and Jesse weren't robbing for personal gain, but to enlarge and help conceal the Confederacy's rainy-day stash.

Brewer's quarter-century involvement with rebel treasure depositories, which are ostensibly scattered over a wide swath of territory in the American Southwest and South, is incremental. Growing up in the Arkansas backwoods, Bob was first exposed to the existence of hidden swag by listening to the recollections, stories, and veiled references by resident old timers. It wasn't until he returned home from Vietnam that Brewer began to take these verbal clues seriously and undertook to systematically correlate and follow widely spread physical mapping clues, principally carvings in the trunks of trees and buried markers. To his credit and the overall story's credibility, Bob did manage to unearth several relatively small troves of buried coins in the area. Later, as his knowledge of the KGC increased and he came into possession of additional coded maps and information, he transferred his attention to a larger area across the state line in Oklahoma, and finally to Arizona's Superstition Mountains. In Oklahoma, he was thwarted by a fellow treasure hunter with whom he'd naively shared knowledge and who allegedly beat him to a significantly large stash of gold in a buried safe. In Arizona (and back in Arkansas), Brewer was, and still is, blocked from unearthing (presumably) major hordes by the fact that the sites are on federal land. And who, in their right mind, wants to share found riches with the dang guv'mint, eh?

Bob's ultimate triumph, if it can be called such, was in identifying the precise but presumed location of the Arizona treasure vault - underneath Picketpost Mountain - after interrelating a myriad of clues - including cliff carvings, buried markers, and coded stone tablets - with the help of a couple of local amateur treasure hunters and a topographical map of the region.

This yarn by Brewer and Getler is a good one, though to be completely believable the reader would, I suspect, had to have been there. Brewer's surmises and intuitive leaps are both numerous and mind-boggling. For instance, concerning an enigmatic stone tablet containing both text and the image of a horse, an image which Brewer had discerned amidst the contour lines and other features of his topo map:

"Bob surmised that the textual clue DON ... was intended to read in reverse, as NOD. If the giant horse's head were to nod ... it would be facing the zone of interest, directly south."

Further, from a newspaper obit about the death of the presumed KGC sentinel Elisha Reavis, Bob's mental contortions are revealed:

"The article reported that a 'Billy G. Knight' - an English 'cowboy' ... had cautioned Reavis a couple of weeks before his mysterious death to 'see a doctor'. Reading between the lines, the 'English cowboy' could easily pass for a medieval Knight Templar, Bob thought. The G could well be a nod toward the hallmark symbol for 'Geometry' (some say, 'God') in Freemasonry. And, he speculated, based on related clues uncovered in Arkansas and Oklahoma, 'William' could suggest William Wallace, the heralded Scottish freedom fighter ..." Yeah, well, like I said, I guess you had to be there.

The thing is, as even Brewer himself recognizes on page 197:

"(The mapmakers) had left behind their signature system of symbolism, too subtle for most to recognize and perhaps too clever for those in the know to be able to follow the encrypted signposts."

So, what was the point of creating maps and clues so arcane and obscure such that die-hard secessionists in future generations might not even be able to recover the treasure? Whatever happened to "keep it simple, stupid"? Indeed, I suspect you could give the same maps and clues to a hundred different cryptologists and come back with a hundred different conclusions. Why should the reader believe Brewer's interpretation, especially as he wasn't (and hasn't been) able to make the major find that would prove him correct?

I'm awarding REBEL GOLD four stars for its interesting premise. Otherwise, it's hard to care. Besides, a vague likeness of the Virgin Mary has just appeared on the trunk of a tree in my yard with her finger pointing down. Hey, Mother, get the shovel! We're gonna be rich, girl! (Or, maybe it means I'm destined for Hell. We'll see.)
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on November 28, 2009
This paperback is just a reprint of Shadow of the Sentinel with the title changed to Rebel Gold. I guess when sales of a publishing are so poor they call it previously published and put a new title on it, I call that a scam. I'm 63 years old and have lived in Arizona most of my life, raised in Phoenix. I know and have been to every location that Mr. Brewer uses in this book. The only truth I found is when he mentions that except for Adamsville every other location is on Forest Service or BLM controlled land. Which of course is closed to treasure hunting and federal permits to treasure hunt in these areas are rare as hens teeth. So as to anyone proving his wild speculation of the location of this large KGC Cache is not going to happen.

The area around Picketpost Mountain has been a fairly active mining area since the Civil War. Within three miles of Picketpost Mtn. to the northeast there was the town of Pinal aka Pinal City from 1878 to 1891, the mill for the Silver King mine was there. The town is gone, but a small cemetery is still there and Mattie Earp is buried in it. Cely Ann "Mattie" Blaylock aka Mattie Earp, Wyatt Earp's laudanum addicted girlfriend that he brought with him to Tombstone. The present day town of Superior on U.S. Hwy 60 is only about eight miles northeast of Picketpost Mtn. and goes back to the 1890s as a mining town right up to present day. Picketpost Mtn. is only about two miles south of U.S. Hwy 60. Picketpost Mtn. sticks up out of the desert like a sore thumb and there have been people in the area since the Civil War right up to the present that would have seen any major activity in the area.

Some how Mr. Brewer made all his lines and tangents (smoke & mirrors) work on 1900 topographical maps, but they sure don't work on the 1991 topographical maps I used. I guess all these landmarks moved a bit in the those 91 years and won't line up anymore. Rebel Gold aka Shadow of the Sentinel is fantasy from Mr. Brewer's very over active imagination, at least he left out Bigfoot an UFOs. I would not recommend this book under any title to anyone.
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on April 26, 2005
Well, well... hard core treasure buffs are the hardest lot to dissuade. These 4 and 5 star reviews are something else. I have never been a big believer in `lost mines/hoards' - gold of this magnitude won't stay hidden for long. And when it is recovered, the person or persons recovering the hoard won't advertise it.

(...)

While obvious that Brewer has a talent for deciphering obscure and confusing map codes, it is apparent that he has preconceived notions that lead him in the direction he wants to go. He is like a chemist or scientist that already 'knows' the results he wants to achieve, so he manipulates the experiment to get his desired result.

The Lost Dutchman mine legend is built upon historical fact. It is strains credibility for Brewer to come to Arizona and in a few days re-write the Spanish mining history of the southwest; suddenly it all becomes `Rebel Gold'.

Some of the mines attributed to the `Dutchman' have actually been located and documented - not the cache that Jocob Walzer hid and occasionally visited - but the actual mine workings of the area around Weaver's Needle. There is nothing particularly unusual about Spanish mine workings in the southwest, and how they were occasionally `high graded' by miners - that sustained them in style for a number of years, while the legend grew and grew. The Lost Dutchman mine has been romanticized to the point, that it has entered the public domain of movies, books and legend. What is galling is that Brewer and his partners never even entered the actual Superstition Mountains. Never more than a few minutes from the highway and the air conditioned SUV, they spend their time trespassing and digging on private land, drawing horse heads on topographic maps (get a fresh copy of the Wickenburg area topo maps - you won't find a horse head, a soldier monk anywhere, unless you WANT to see it - then get a black pen and draw it in - you can probably draw in a happy face if you want). Bob sees `heart shaped' images everywhere - he can hardly walk outside with spotting heart shaped boulders, mountains, rocks - he sees them on the landscape, he sees him in Ashcroft's gag photo, he inks them onto his topo maps. KGC sign all around - even on US topographic maps - which is so silly it needs no further comment.

They find shotgun shells arranged in a five pointed star and conclude that is KGC sign - are we to conclude that these shells have lain on this spot for decades or that the KGC is just hours ahead? He finds something that he decides is significant, announces it as a `clue'. Later he finds another random item he decides is a clue and points out that `it lines up precisely with the previous clue'. Well sure, Bob - two points make a straight line. Thanks for the basic geometry lesson.

What begins to push this entire book into the `conspiracy' section of the local library is the helicopter scenario right out of the X-Files. What is probably a realtor showing property (first helicopter flyby) or a federal officer (second one) is spun into such contrived weirdness that it demonstrates that Brewer and the boys are way out of their league in the Southwest. Southern Arizona isn't the wooded hills of Arkansas and Oklahoma - this is the hard Sonoran Desert - drugs, bounty hunters, smugglers, illegal aliens, etc. It is gradually becoming militarized and being confronted by feds exhibiting odd behavior is not unusual. These well fed treasure tourists with the metal detectors (mountain men as Getler continually reminds us) must have been quite a sight shaking at the site of the mysterious helicopter flying `sentinel'. Later they are unnerved by the sight of a `dead' rabbit, they conclude that it had been left as a `warning' and that they didn't want to wind up like `Adolf Ruth'. (Adolf Ruth was murdered, shot in the head by one of the itinerant cowboys that guided him into the Superstitions; animals most likely separated the head from the body during the months it was exposed.)

The idea that the KGC would have helicopter flying 'sentinels' that would go to the trouble to confront a couple of fat guys wandering around looking at rocks is ludicrous. But since they have this image of this vast treasure hoard buried somewhere round here, they have created aura of paranoia around them - everything has import. They ask us to believe that the Knights of the Golden Circle (disbanded 90 years ago) have a helicopter STANDING BY, to frighten off people with metal detectors.

Beech tree graffiti, helicopters (at least they weren't black), `eyes rolled back' gag photo, grandpa riding a horse ("on patrol" guarding the treasure - well, sure... of course - that's obvious), photo of Albert Pike (total nutcase), `coded' photograph of some winking dandy so full of self importance he loads up the photo with the most obvious of `codes' - his mysterious `all seeing eye' on the instep of his shoe. One thing that Brewer and Getler seem to not understand is that Freemasonry is NOT a secret society; it is - if anything - a society of secrets - and most of those are public knowledge.

In Arizona, using a backhoe and without the owner's permission, they dig up a trash midden. Each bit of random trash has deep significance, more `code' - you wonder if, for Brewer, a cigar is EVER just a cigar. Every single item has some hidden meaning - and when the bottom of the debris fails to deliver the expectant treasure - rather than admitting they were digging for nothing, the mystery deepens. This trash heap is suddenly placed there to `throw them off the trail'. Brewer states that it all confirms his research. The author actually includes a photo of these guys with all the junk they recovered laid out. Junk - all of it - a book on what they claim is the largest treasure hoard in North America and these guys are digging up pig iron and broken kitchenware. Two pieces of rusted steam pipe are the `cross' of the skull and crossbones, some scrap metal is shaped like a heart, a horse skull is an `ancient French Breed used by Crusader Knights', broken pottery has a circle design underneath. To them, all of this has coded significance. This reminds me of that 'Calvin and Hobbs' comic skit - where Calvin is 'excavating for dinosoars' and digs up all this junk - soda cans, bottles, pipes - what does this all mean? Calvin assembles his 'artifacts' into a dinosoar and announces his 'discovery'.

With a bit of training these `mountain men' could be shown how to tell the difference between `artificially disturbed soils' (deliberately buried) and random deposition by wind or water. These are standard archeological recognition skills and knowledge of geological deposition. Brewer shows no real knowledge of what is known as `site formation processes'. If `hunting for buried treasure' in the ground has been as important part of his life as this book claim it has, then he would understand these things. It confirms my idea that Brewer is the armchair sort - and comfortable with his ciphers and codes - most of which he made up.

The entire Arizona portion was just hilarious - like tourists on a Caribbean Island Club Med vacation walking around looking for signs of pirate treasure. Suddenly they are comfronted by a landowner who runs them off, and they decide that the man is a descendant of Captain Kidd guarding the buried treasure chest.

And then the final cop-out in the book - Brewer has this `immense calm' come over him and decided - or one isn't quite sure - to leave the treasure where it is - conveniently located on federal lands (Brewer and Getler - in true paranoid fashion decide that is part of the `conspiracy' as well). Ah! I can't recover the treasure, but could if I wanted to, but I don't' want to, since it was guarded by my family members and I have conflicting emotions, and it IS on government land so we can't dig it up. This of course, provides an excuse for the fact that Brewer never found much more than a jar full of coins after 40 years of searching. I am sure, however, that he will continue to be a big hit at the Treasure show circuits.
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on June 23, 2014
-Jesse James was a genius of James Bond villain proportion, complete with a faked death and hidden mountains of gold.
-Despite crushing shortages of manpower and money throughout the existence of the Confederacy(often just barely preventing victories in battle), a Southern secret society of virtually unlimited wealth and manpower chose to hold back their support in favor of hiding those resources away for some future date when the South could rise again.
-This same society both ensured the election of Lincoln in order to initiate succession, and supported his assassination despite his very clear inclination to be lenient with the Southern states because....uh....evil?

These are just a few of the bolder assertions made with very little to back them up. To their credit, even the authors grant the level of supposition: "wouldn't it make sense", "it's possible" and "it's theorized" equivocations abound. It'd be great as speculative fiction, but it's attempt to claim otherwise makes it a failure on it's own terms.
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on July 3, 2015
Why would the Confederacy go through all that trouble of burying qualities of gold, and creating elaborate maps to it? Wouldn’t it be easier to place the money on a ship to a bank in a foreign capital or even a U.S. bank? If recovery of all this Confederate gold requires modern equipment, how was it buried in the first place in desert areas, difficult to access and without modern equipment?
There is a lot wrong with the history here. For instance, there is the emphasis is on Jesse James. What about Frank James and the Younger Brothers?
I will buy that perhaps the outlaw faked his own death and retired someplace; I will accept that perhaps Jacob Waltz was a Knight of the Golden Circle, and his mysterious mine was just a cache of Confederate gold he was guarding.
But so much of this book is very far fetched. And despite the treasure hunting and code breaking, it was boring. Whole paragraphs were devoted to co-ordinance on maps. It would get interesting for awhile and then too much geographical information would get in the way.
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on June 6, 2013
As someone who has hunted treasure, I highly recommend this book. Although I have not hunted in the midsection of our great nation, I can relate to Bob's quest and the research required. It takes years to analyze and interpret signs and clues. If you're new to this avocation, this book is a great read. The legend of Jesse James lives on.
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on December 13, 2014
The book's not too bad if taken with a grain of salt. I enjoyed the story and the writing style, but was miffed that I ordered both this one and Rebel Gold only to find out they were the same book under a different name.

In the story the treasure hunter/co-author makes A LOT of jumps in logic to arrive at his conclusions but it doesn't make the concept any less interesting.

Unfortunately, the book ends with the co-author claiming he has deciphered the code to a treasure in the Superstition Mountains but then just leaves it hanging as to whether anything was ever found there.
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on July 27, 2015
I'm not sure how much of this is true (it's not my field of expertise - I bought this book for a friend, who then loaned it back to me), but Rebel Gold is a well-written and fascinating book. I have no doubt that the Knights of the Golden Circle and Southern elites hoped to rebuild the Confederacy someday, and expand it into Latin America, and that they were inspired by secret societies and Masonic symbolism. What was new to me was the idea that Jesse James was more than an ordinary Old West outlaw, and that these treasures may still be guarded by "sentinels" today.
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on November 15, 2014
This is a fascinating book.I found this a captivating read.Anyone who is interested in the Civil War and it's aftermath will be fascinated by this book.A team of investigators has been at work for several years now locating some of this buried treasure and have actually found some gold that was buried in mason jars by the James Gang who had several members that belonged to the Knights Of The Golden Circle whose mission was to obtain enough funds to raise the cause of the South again.This proves that the Civil War was carried on by this very secret organization long after the surrender was signed and that men like Jesse James that fought in the war for the Southern cause continued for years afterward to keep the Cause alive.This book reads like a novel and now that some of this gold has been found it adds a level of proof to this story that makes this book even more interesting.I highly recommend this book to all who enjoy a true historical mystery with reprocussions that are being felt as we speak.-Floyd Smith
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on November 12, 2012
I purchased the book entitled: Shadow of The Sentinal also by Brewer. I recieved an email from Amazon a week later suggesting I take a look at this book: Rebel Gold.
Checked it out and ordered it, book arrived. I looked it over and in fine print at the bottom of the front cover it says, "previously published under the title Shadow Of The Sentinal."
No where in the description of the book on amazon.com's website did it mention that these were the same exact books with different titles.
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