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The Rush: America's Fevered Quest for Fortune, 1848-1853 Hardcover – August 12, 2014

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (August 12, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316175684
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316175685
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.2 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #17,196 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"A gripping historical narrative...Dolnick, a veteran science writer, knows his way around a canvas...The Forger's Spell has raised provocative questions about the nature of art and the psychology of deception."—Washington Post Book World

"Dolnick brilliantly re-creates the circumstances that made possible one of the most audacious frauds of the 20th century. And in doing so Dolnick plumbs the nature of fraud incomparable page turner."—Boston Globe

"[Dolnick] tells his story engagingly and with a light touch. He has a novelist's talent for characterization, and he raises fascinating questions."—New York Times Book Review

"The Forger's Spell is an excellent read, a swift and astute narrative written from many complex perspectives to great effect."—Chicago Sun-Times

"Pacing and prose as gripping as those of the best mystery novelist...The Forger's Spell is simply spellbinding."—Philadelphia Inquirer

"An engaging and highly amusing account of a clever craftsman. . . . On all those levels this is a delightful foray into art history and psychology"—St. Louis Post-Dispatch

About the Author

Edward Dolnick is the author of The Forger's Spell, Down the Great Unknown and the Edgar Award-winning The Rescue Artist. A former chief science writer at the Boston Globe, he has written for The Atlantic Monthly, the New York Times Magazine, and many other publications. There are over 130,000 copies of his books in print. He lives with his wife near Washington, D.C.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By John Barry on August 24, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
An astonishing read. Unputdownable is such a cliche, but it's accurate in this case. It's a minor tragedy that the book has appeared after most folk have taken their vacations. It's the perfect beach-read: an amazing story unfolded with great narrative skill. Perhaps the perfect Xmas present ?

Dolnick situates the Gold Rush of 1849 against the background of that unrelenting era --- for most Americans the chances of escaping a lifetime of, at best, drudgery were close to zero --- to recount an epic yarn which, like all epics, has resonances far wider than itself. "California is like the rest of America, only more so; the gold rush is the American story, only more so," he writes.

There is no want of histories of the Gold Rush. Those I've read were, to be honest, rather boring --- scholarly, no doubt, but greyer than their subject. . Dolnick's account is a welcome change. To my knowledge, he is the first author to take full advantage of the treasure trove of first-person accounts --- diaries, letters, memoirs --- now lodged in the Library of Congress and a handful more archives. The voices he resurrects for us are heartbreaking. And he encases them in a narrative of astonishing pace and power. He persuades us that the Gold Rush is The American Epic, and page by page he tells us why. I was so moved that, at several places, I had briefly to stop reading.
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Format: Hardcover
It happened on January 24, 1848, when “a moody oddball carpenter…muttered a phrase destined to become famous. ‘Boys, by God, I believe I have found a gold mine!’”

For five years afterwards, Americans --- along with a fair share of foreigners --- were beset by "gold fever." Young men from the East, who had never hefted anything heavier than a pen, headed for the gold fields of north-central California for the opportunity, they reckoned, of becoming overnight millionaires by picking gleaming nuggets off the ground. The reality differed starkly from the dream. Living in camps with broken furniture, sleeping in their clothes, and ceaselessly shoveling tons of rock while standing up to their knees in mud, the prospectors existed on the slim hope of discovering a rich vein or a bag of flakes that would set them up for life.

Science writer Edward Dolnick (THE CLOCKWORK UNIVERSE, THE FORGER’S SPELL) has mined contemporary diaries for this glittering mother lode of eyewitness accounts, fascinating tales of real people who left home with high hopes and doggedly stayed on despite the daily adversities. The journey itself was enough to discourage even the most determined. Consider this hair-raising observation from a couple traveling overland: “Sometimes we found the bones of men bleaching beside their broken down and abandoned wagons.” Greenhorns quickly became grizzled and gaunt --- men who, with a few chunks of precious metal in their pockets, could party on their earnings not just for a night but for weeks at a stretch. Few, it seemed, had the knack for holding on to what they found.

Those who came to do the miners’ laundry and sell them their drinks seemed, overall, to have been the big winners in the search for fortune.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have read all of Dolnick's books and he never fails to make the subject come alive as he does in this book. How does he choose what to include from what must be a mountain of information? I was a history major, American history at that, at a good university. The gold rush was touched upon in several of my courses but not with the detail that Dolnick gives us. I knew that it was difficult to get to California and knew of the Donners, but the day to day grind and the risks of only possibly making it was never fully illustrated to me. I believe that any one who picks up this book will be in for a good ride as Dolnick describes the passage for several people from their diaries bent on making their fortune with California gold.
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