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The Klondike Fever: The Life and Death of the Last Great Gold Rush
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The Klondike Fever: The Life and Death of the Last Great Gold Rush

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  259 ratings  ·  34 reviews
In 1897 a grimy steamer docked in Seattle and set into epic motion the incredible succession of events that Pierre Berton's exhilarating The Klondike Fever chronicles in all its splendid and astonishing folly. For the steamer Portland bore two tons of pure Klondike gold. And immediately, the stampede north to Alaska began. Easily as many as 100,000 adventurers, dreamers, a ...more
Paperback, 494 pages
Published December 17th 2003 by Basic Books (first published 1958)
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Beth Cato
Apr 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013, history, nonfiction
I bought this book so I could read up on Alaskan history before our cruise this summer, and I was worried I made a poor choice. Klondike Fever is a brick of a book at about 450 pages. If it was in hardcover, I could use it as a weapon. It was also written back in the 1950s. I started reading, already half expecting to find it to be a dry, dull read not worthy of finishing.

Wow, was I wrong.

The book is extremely long, true, but Berton's storytelling prowess is absolutely engaging. He knows his stu
Aug 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Pierre Berton is among my three favorite history writers. He lacks the meticulous scholarship of Barbara Tuchman and the gravitas of David McCullough, but Pierre Berton surely knows how to tell a good story.

The Klondike Fever is an amazing tale of bravery, perseverance, loyalty, averice, betrayal, greed, and above all folly. Berton (born in the Yukon) knows his stuff, and the stories he relates are considerably different from the stories you hear at the 'museums' of Skagway and Ketchikan when y
travis verble
Nov 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I have had the privilege to get too know how bad the time and circumstances were in the time of the Yukon gold rush. But I think that more importantly how , the Bonanza and Eldorado were already claimed. And still the rush was own. The hardships they endured and sacrifices that were made. And for most nothing.

This is a must read for anyone who plans to travel too the Yukon and up the Dawson.
Jul 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Used book stores can be full of gems such as this book. Written in 1958 this book has a style that is easy to read while still full of facts.
The author's father was a one of the thousands who made the rush to the Klondike and grew up there. He was on the ground to interview many of the people who lived through the agonizing cold, hunger, and often disappointment of the gold rush.
This one is staying on my shelf.
Nicole Jarvis
This book was written in the 1950s, which explains the author’s determination to erase and undermine the efforts of anyone but the straight white men involved in the gold rush. His portrayal of the Canadian natives are blatantly racist and factually incorrect. I’m having to do extensive additional research to repair and patch the outline I’ve gathered from this book.
Stephen Richardson
Apr 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This corner of the continent went full-out bat-shit crazy for gold and an adventurous escape from the confining limits of farm and city in the late 1890s. This is a great story, now mostly forgotten.
Sep 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
In history, few things spark the imagination like "stampede" and "gold rush."

Mr. Berton cultivates the readers imagination while not sparing the facts in his excellent history of the Yukon gold rush.

He describes with crackling detail all of the fantastic characters, the difficult conditions, long journeys, excitement of the stampede, and the gold...

Possibly the most captivating image he creates in the mind of the reader was the rush of excitement a miner felt when he/she found gold nuggets and
Jul 25, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: recommended, own
This is an eye-opening account of an important piece of history.

The Klondike gold rush experience of the "sourdoughs" and "cheekachos" - veteran Klondikers and the gold rush naifs, all of whom sacrificed everything to get rich quick. Of course, most left dirt poor - and even most of those who struck it big lost it big, too.

The gold rush lasted all of 18 months, from 1898 to 1899. To get to the gold fields, hundreds of miles of rough, frozen terrain had to be negotiated. People and animals died,
Jun 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is the sort of book that makes fiction seem uninspired and boring. How could anything imagined compare to the reality of the Alaskan wilderness in the 1800s? The immensity of the peril facing anyone who journeyed to the Alaskan wilderness in the 1800s is difficult to comprehend from our cushy modern perspective. But Berton does an amazing job of making it all incredibly real.

Berton does a ton of research and puts it all to good use. He paints a picture of the Alaskan outback before the gold
"This electrifying account brings the glory and folly of the Yukon gold mania to life in vivid and authentic detail. Relying on the Klondikers' journals and letters, shipping records, newspaper accounts, and even interviews with gold rush survivors, Pierre Berton, whose own father crossed the Chilkoot Pass in 1898, recounts the individual tragedies and successes of dozens of dreamers, adventurers, innocents, and desperadoes."

"The story winds through the saloons and dance halls of the lawless tow
Aug 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This is likely to be one of the best non-fiction books I have ever read. More than anything else, the stories of these men and women seeking gold on the Klondike are incredibly entertaining in their own right. They could not make a movie about this era because it is just that unbelievable. Breton weaves all the incredible tales together in a near-flawless narrative, with little to no unnecessary dalliances and not a single paragraph you'll want to skim. This is not like all those academic histor ...more
Aug 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
I made it about halfway through this well-written and well-paced account of the events of 1898ish in the Yukon Valley before I landed in Alaska, and I found it had helped orient me to the topography of the area as much as to its history. Berton's research is painstaking and his sense of humor and pathos come to the fore in every chapter. Personally I love his use of the word "demented" to describe the (mostly) men who scrambled toward reported gold--nothing could be more apt. My response to many ...more
Sep 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Another history book read in my search for well-written history. I really enjoyed this one. It's not complicated; it's a lively narrative history of the Klondike gold rush. This is the kind of non-fiction that reads so well I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to anyone interested in the topic. I plan on passing this one on to my dad.
Aug 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I read this book before my 4 night/5 day backcountry hike along the Chilkoot Trail that goes from Dyea Alaska (near Skagway) and Bennett, British Columbia. It gave me a real sense for what the Klondike Gold Rush was like. Methodically researched and written in elegant prose, it's historical narrative at its finest!
Sep 26, 2009 rated it really liked it
A well-done work on all aspects of the 1897-98 Klondike gold rush by a writer who himself grew up in Dawson City. Berton takes as his source primarily the journalism of the day, but manages to write a detailed and convincing narrative despite the fact that so many of his sources were suspect.
Aug 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Expert work of literary nonfiction. Paints a full tapestry of the time: places and people, successes and failures. More than anything this book is a sensitive and intimate look at the variety of characters involved, and the legacy they left.
Mike Hailey
Aug 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The most fascinating book on the Klondike Gold Rush (1896?) that I have ever read! Couldn't put it down once I got started, and have read it a few more times (cover to cover) since. You won't be disappointed.
Joshua Horn
Jul 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
A good account of the Gold Rush and it's personalities. It is easy to read and engaging. The author was the son of one of the stampeeders who stayed around, so his son grew up amongst the places he would write about. A few good book.
Rick McNeely
Jan 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing
A harrowing account of Gold Fever, and human nature at its best/worst. This is the kind of history book that makes people love history. Berton's descriptions of the hostile natural world the gold-seekers encountered are first-rate.
Feb 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
I read this book after visiting Alaska on a cruise ship. Very readable and enjoyable book about a fascinating episode in history. Probably similar to the general tale of any gold rush, but the extreme remote location of the Klondike lead to extreme actions and conditions.
John Fulcoly
Feb 03, 2014 rated it did not like it
This is the first book in 10 years I'm going to stop reading. Every sentence is a chore - over burdened with adjectives and superlatives. Everything is chopped up and fragmented so much that I'm losing touch with a cohesive story.
Jason Beck
Aug 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Fabulous read. Truly an amazing story superbly told.
This is a very good history of the gold rush to Alaska in the late 1800s. The author interviewed persons that had been there during that time and newspaper accounts from around the world.
Sep 22, 2010 rated it it was ok
So much information in this Book. It's amazing!!!
Jeff Sessions
Jul 16, 2008 rated it liked it
This book had tons and tons of info but the author jumped round alot. It really gave me a good perspective of this particular goldrush. I liked it.
Sep 15, 2009 rated it really liked it
through edmonton, canada
Bob Rehfeld
Jan 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
This and Chekov's Lord of Alaska were the first two books on the Great land I read when we moved back to Alaska back in 1974 per my mom's recommendation. Both were great reads.
Nov 06, 2008 marked it as to-read
Purchased from the Goodwill
Rita Jean
Jan 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
Very good storytelling from someone who was born in the Klondike.
Mar 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic. A huge, sprawling adventure covering thousands of miles and hundreds of human dramas, exhaustively researched and very well-told. I'm definitely going to dig in to more of Berton's work.
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From narrative histories and popular culture, to picture and coffee table books to anthologies, to stories for children to readable, historical works for youth, many of his books are now Canadian classics.

Born in 1920 and raised in the Yukon, Pierre Berton worked in Klondike mining camps during his university years. He spent four years in the army, rising from private to captain/instructor at the