From Publishers Weekly
Clarence King (1842–1901) was the Indiana Jones of the 19th century. His dangerous 1864 passage across the Sierra Nevadas in California was hailed as ushering in "a new era in American mountaineering," during which his discovery of metamorphosed fossils helped determine the age of the Sierra Nevada gold belt—time-saving information for prospectors. In 1872, his debunking of fantastic claims of a "diamond field" in northwestern Colorado made him a national hero. King also wrote several landmark studies of mining, geology and mountaineering. American Scholar
editor Wilson has produced an affectionate account of King's life that emphasizes the inevitable hardship of exploration as much as King's scientific achievements. King represented "a new paradigm of the western adventurer... the scientist-explorer, who seeks knowledge rather than territory or riches." Wilson judiciously sifts through the record of King's exploits. Almost as if he cannot bear to document his subject's long, slow decline, when he himself became obsessed with extracting riches from the earth, Wilson stops the story at King's uncovering of the Great Diamond Hoax. Wilson adds to our picture of the Wild West: one populated less by bloodthirsty bandits and ruthless ranchers than by earnest, upstanding men defined by their curiosity and courage. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
"An engrossing portrait of a man who embodied both brawn and brains." -- Entertainment Weekly
"Robert Wilson...shows what all the fuss was about...[and] narrates these events in a fluid, engaging style." -- New York Times
"[A] colorful biography of a geologist who surveyed much of the American West...Lively and well told." -- Kirkus Reviews
"[Wilson] tells King's story with grace, and admiration, and gives us a real sense of the man's achievements." -- Washington Times