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The Floor of Heaven: A True Tale of the Last Frontier & the Yukon Gold Rush

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3.90  ·  Rating Details  ·  663 Ratings  ·  127 Reviews
It is the last decade of the 19th century. The Wild West has been tamed and its fierce, independent and often violent larger-than-life figures – gun-toting wanderers, trappers, prospectors, Indian fighters, cowboys, and lawmen –are now victims of their own success. They are heroes who’ve outlived their usefulness.
But then gold is discovered in Alaska and the adjacent Canad
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ebook, 277 pages
Published April 26th 2011 by Crown (first published January 1st 2011)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,582)
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Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
You'd think you were reading fiction. This story is that good.

And the truth is that Floor of Heaven is a little bit fiction. Even Blum, in his final Note on Sources, acknowledges this.

Just a bit fiction, though. This book contains just enough fictional elements to shape the three intermingling true stories into a great book. But the heart of the story is solidly nonfiction.

It is a great book. It's the story of the beginnings of Alaska, the story of three characters so quirky and real that
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J.R.
Apr 20, 2011 J.R. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Howard Blum brings up two interesting facts which are integral to this book. One, the Yukon gold rush came as a final hurrah for the displaced heroes of the Wild West. And two, it occurred while the United States was in the grip of a devastating economic depression.

The first of these facts is more obvious to the casual reader. The stories of Jack London and other writers of the period grant us some familiarity with those who braved arduous conditions in hope of finding fortune in the frozen nort
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Brad Hopkins
Mar 02, 2012 Brad Hopkins rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Some went to escape. Some went to start over. Some went for adventure. All were drawn by gold.

The Floor of Heaven is the amazing story of the Yukon Gold Rush, told through the lives of three men who despite their diverse backgrounds, found themselves in a showdown with a quarter million dollars worth of gold hanging in the balance.

Author Howard Blum does a magnificent job tracing the lives of Jeff “Soapy” Smith (con-man one minute, benefactor the next), Charlie Siringo (a cow puncher from Texas
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George
Apr 04, 2012 George rated it it was amazing
HIGH ADVENTURE. A VERY ENTERTAINING READ.

Set at the end of the nineteenth century, when the wild, wild west was getting tamer, and the untamed far-north was becoming wilder, ‘The Floor of Heaven: A True Tale of the Last Frontier and the Yukon Gold Rush’, by Howard Blum, tells the larger than life stories of the some of the cowpokes and conmen who straddled those two worlds.

It is the story of three unforgettable men of legend and adventure: Charlie Siringo, George Carmack and Soapy Smith; any on
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Sam
Apr 25, 2011 Sam rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I won this book as a giveaway...What a treat for the first giveaway!
Blum says his goal when writing The Floor of Heaven was to tell a story. I want to let everyone know he has definitely accomplished his goal with this book. Blum takes you deep into the world inhabited and trials faced by his three main characters. The intertwining stories are so enthralling, at times you forget they are true. From start to finish the book reads like a freight train...Once you get started stopping is not an easy
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Joe
A true tale of the Old West? Maybe. Darn right good tale? Definately! I never knew so much commotion ensued.
Katie
Aug 20, 2014 Katie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a historical fiction about three men who ventured up to the Klondike Gold Rush: George Carmack, who started the stampede; Soapy Smith, a swindler who took over and terrorized Skagway and the gold rushers; and Charlie Siringo, a cowboy detective hunting down various criminals in Alaska's last frontier. It was a fast-paced, interesting read and I learned a lot about the Gold Rush that brought my ancestors North to the Yukon. I had always heard about Soapy Smith and George Carmack, but kne ...more
Jeffery Moulton
Why don't we write or hear stories about the Yukon Gold Rush anymore? I seem to recall a time that they were very popular. In high school, I was especially fond of pretty much anything by Jack London and loved the movie adaptation of White Fang. To this day, I am still fond of the John Wayne flick North to Alaska. The setting just seems so rife with story possibilities -- both fiction and nonfiction. But you really don't see much about it these days.

For that matter, why doesn't the Pinkerton Det
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Caroline
Jul 05, 2014 Caroline rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american-history
This was one of those books that I thoroughly enjoyed, whilst at the same time being a little bit disappointed that it wasn't what I was expecting. I was hoping for a more general overview of the Yukon Gold Rush, a...well, a history book, to be honest.

What this book really is, is an intertwined biography of three individuals all connected with the Yukon Gold Rush - George Carmack, a deserter from the Marines who was adopted by an Indian tribe and was the first to find gold in the Yukon River Val
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Jean
May 24, 2014 Jean rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A history that reads like a suspense/thriller/detective novel! I was hooked from the beginning on this story of three men in the 1890s who ended up in Alaska during the Klondike gold rush. There is Charlie Siringo, cowboy turned Pinkerton detective; George Carmack, a loner who goes to Alaska to live with the Indians and seek gold; and Soapy Smith, a con artist with a soft side. I had to find out what happened to each one, and Blum does a great job of weaving their stories together, going back an ...more
Adam Smith
Nov 19, 2015 Adam Smith rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The characters are so dear - whether the law, criminal, gold diggers, outdoorsmen. I didn't want the book to end.
Rachel
Sep 01, 2011 Rachel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an engaging story of three men who were part of the rush of adventurers seeking fortune and escape in the west and the Alaskan frontier.
I'm amazed at the time and research that went into this book, and at the same time it reads like a novel (and a good mystery at times) rather than a history lesson. The characters really come to life.
Soapy Smith is a conman gangleader who wants to take advantage of gullible prospectors. Charlie Siringo is a cowboy turned Pinkerton detective, and George
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Nicola Mansfield
Reason for Reading: I've never consciously thought about this before but I do seem to have a penchant for reading about the Klondike/Yukon gold rush. I'm even reading aloud a fiction book to my son on the topic at this moment! This was a must read for me.

This is a true story told in narrative form which really reads like a novel and thus a quick page-turner. The book focuses in on three people: George Carmack, AWOL Marine who "ignites" the biggest gold rush the world has seen; Soapy Smith, conma
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Bev
Jan 22, 2013 Bev rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was the non-fiction book we were reading for our book club, but it reads like a fiction novel. It is subtitled "A True Tale of the Last Frontier and the Yukon Gold Rush" and centers on 3 men whose lives, after many, many pages, intersect in Alaska. George Carmack, is a Marine deserter, whose discovery sets off the stampede to the Yukon, "Soapy" Smith is a flamboyant western villain, and Charlie Siringo is a cowboy turned Pinkerton detective named Charlie Siringo.

This was an exceedingly rea
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Abe
Feb 25, 2012 Abe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a good work of nonfiction, although it’s not quite what was advertised. I thought I was getting a detailed narrative of the Yukon Gold Rush that began in 1897, but that was actually pretty much the end point of the book. It was really a set of interesting tales surrounding three men of the Old West as the Old West was finally disappearing, and how they all ended up chasing gold in Alaska and the Yukon. As it turns out, this made for a better read.
The three men were a fairly famous cowbo
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Robert
Aug 21, 2011 Robert rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very interesting tale of three men during a time in America when the days of the wild frontier were vanishing. However up north times were still as wild as ever and the sixgun and the lever rifles ruled the land. What fascinated me was the way that the author wrote this to read almost like a good action/adventure novel. And with his note on sources at the end of the book the author truly must be commended for the formidable task that he took on in writing this book. The mountains of ma ...more
Aliza
Sep 22, 2012 Aliza rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book tremendously; I read a lot of non-fiction, and this is one of the best I've read. Blum's writing is very engaging and more reminiscent of a novelist than anything. All three of the subjects are interesting, particularly the Cowboy turned Pinkerton Agent Charlie Siringo. I also like how Blum shows the changes in George Carmack's character and how his gold strike fundamentally changed his character. I didn't like the sections on Soapy Smith as much, but he's not exactly an admi ...more
Lisa N
Jun 08, 2011 Lisa N rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A clever narrative that weaves together the lives of three men and the intriguing story of how their paths cross near the Klondike.

There’s Charles Siringo, touted as the last American cowboy, who becomes a Pinkerton detective; George Carmack, an AWOL marine who becomes part of an Indian tribe and discovers gold on the Klondike; and Soapy Smith, a conman who builds an underground empire in Skagway, Alaska.

About halfway into this book, I really began to wonder how the author had so much informat
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Bridget
Aug 30, 2012 Bridget rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Bridget by: Craig
Shelves: 2012
Interesting enough to keep me reading, but only just. The story is very surface-level, with lots of glossed-over periods of history and summarized, paraphrased conversations. I think this could have been a much longer, in-depth book, but for some reason the author chose to only tell one particular strain of a much wider story.

When I was 14, my family went to Alaska and we spent (what seemed to me) a lot of time in Skagway. We also visited Dyea. That really helped me visualize parts of the book,
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Celia
May 19, 2011 Celia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Three frontier archetypes circle warily in this account, which culminates in a show-down between lawbreakers and vigilantes in the streets of Skagway, Alaska, at the height of the Yukon gold rush. There is the lawman, the law-breaking cut-throat, and the gold miner who struck it rich – and whose lives entangle and intersect at odd intervals, first in the wild west of the 1870s and 1880s, and then in the gold fields, mines, and ramshackle mining towns of Alaska. All three were real, and left fair ...more
Karen
May 31, 2011 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For me to be drawn to a non-fiction book it has to be something unique! I prefer to drift off into a made-up world that someone else creates. OK, it's escapism. But every now and then a true story comes along that triggers the escape mechanism in my mind and I HAVE TO read the book. The Floor of Heaven is one of those rare books. Howard Blum sets the stage for this true life tale so perfectly, the reader forgets it's true!

Blum tells the story of three men hunting for a better life, and the plac
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Dominick Lemas
Oct 10, 2012 Dominick Lemas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: alaska, gold-rush
The American west has been won, the world economy is slipping into turmoil, and in the late 1890's- a man's word was as good as gold. Howard Blum's The Floor of Heaven recants the Klondike Gold Rush through the eyes of three influential men: George W. Carmack, Charlie Siringo, and Jeff "Soapy" Smith. George W. Carmack is the stern California-born prospector credited with discovering gold in the remote Yukon river valley (August 16, 1896) and, along with his partners Jim Mason and Dawson Charlie, ...more
Jerry Smith
I was very anxious to read this book ever since I travelled to Alaska early this year and spent a few days in the Skagway/Dyea area and having my imagination captured by the story of the Yukon Gold Rush. We walked a short section of the Chilkoot trail and I was keen to learn more about the whole episode in history, particularly the hardships endured by the prospectors and the slim chance of actually striking it rich.

This book sheds little light on that and, as such, rates as a serious disappoint
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Lynn
Nov 29, 2012 Lynn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A true story of discovery of gold in the Klondike, Yukon Territory. 3 men who spent their lives living in the wild west conquering Indians and bison to tame the area (in their view and time), head out to the newest untamed wilderness Alaska. George Carmack will eventually be the person who discovers gold in the Yukon after going native and living with Indians. Charlie Ringo will be hired by the Pinkertons to be a detective and catch thieves who stole gold from a mine in Alaska. And a man named S ...more
Bea
Jul 04, 2011 Bea rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What makes this "true tale" fun for me to read is reading how life was in a time before electricty, cars, communication, etc. It was full of adventure for men, not so great for women unless you like to make soap and candles and boil shirts in starch, but I digress, this book is about men.
Outlaws, flim-flam men, Pinkerton detectives, prospectors, and cowboys from Texas to Alaska in the late 1800s is what this is about. The author used letters, diaries, direct quotes in newspapers, etc. to find ou
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Roxanne
Sep 29, 2015 Roxanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the true story. It is a history of the last years of the old west and the new years of the Yukon Gold Rush. In the last decade of the 19th century the wild west had been tamed. Gold is discovered in Alaska and the Canadian Klondike. A new frontier opens up, an immense unexplored territory. "Klondicitis" develops which is a mixture of greed and lust for adventure, igniting a stampede. Tens of thousands of people rushed Northward to look for Gold. Really good book.
Megan
Oct 13, 2015 Megan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an amazingly well-written, fast-paced, interesting, and informative look into the lives of three influential men during the Yukon Gold Rush era. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested, even tangentially, in the history of the West, the Yukon Gold Rush, con men, the history of the Pinkertons, or anyone who just likes a good read. This book will have a place on my shelves for years to come and I won't hesitate to recommend it.
Elaine
Jul 17, 2014 Elaine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was immensely interesting to me as one of the three main players was my great great great great great uncle (George Carmack). Blum uses great storytelling to share a true biography of three men involved in the Klondike Gold Rush. I thought some of the author's sentences had strange wording, but otherwise greatly enjoyed this book. I recommend it to all of my Carmack family!
Terri
Feb 12, 2012 Terri rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Howard Blum tells us that he wanted to write a character-driven story about the intrepid men who traveled from one newly civilized frontier to a place that remained excitingly dangerous-he wanted to tell us a story about people so squeezed by the economic hardships of the times that they were willing to do or try just about anything-he wanted to write about heroes, villains, and dreamers who joined the great stampede to the frozen North-he wanted to capture the boldness, self-reliance, and tenac ...more
Yvonne
Jun 25, 2011 Yvonne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like not knowing what to expect and it's even more of a pleasure to see tidbits about the surrounding areas of where I live. This world is steeped with history that goes largely unrecognized without people like Blum, Larson, Dash, Abbott and a few more names that slip my mind at the moment.

Many men have forsaken their already established livelihoods across the states to gamble on a dream and adventure with little more than the clothes on their backs and what they could carry in a rucksack to
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If you could meet Charlie, George, or Soapy, who would you meet? 1 2 Dec 12, 2013 07:56PM  
This "true story" is not so true. 2 20 Dec 12, 2013 07:50PM  
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HOWARD BLUM is the author of the New York Times bestseller and Edgar Award winner American Lightning, as well as such bestsellers as Wanted!, The Gold Exodus, and Gangland. He is currently a contributing editor at Vanity Fair. While at the New York Times, he was twice nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting. The Floor of Heaven: A True Story of the old West and the Yukon Gold Ru ...more
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“On the plains and prairies either you learn to shrug off the unpredictability of life or else its dangers become too overwhelming.” 0 likes
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