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Age of Gold

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  855 Ratings  ·  89 Reviews
I have found it." These words, uttered by the man who first discovered gold on the American River in 1848, triggered the most astonishing mass movement of peoples since the Crusades. California's gold drew fortune-seekers from the ends of the earth. It accelerated America's imperial expansion and exacerbated the tensions that exploded in the Civil War. And, as H. W. Brands ...more
ebook, 592 pages
Published December 10th 2008 by Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group (first published 2002)
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May 01, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, nook-book
The Age of Gold is about the Gold discovery and the aftermath of it but it also is a history of the state of California. California was seeded to the United States after the United States victory in the Mexican American War in 1848. Fortune immediately went to America when James Marshall, who operated a lumber mill, discovered gold dust in his vicinity in Coloma California.
Up until 1848 California contained few white people. It was inhabited by mostly Mexican and Native Indian populations. Most
Robert Melnyk
May 27, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. It deals with the California Gold Rush, but it is much more than that. It ties the gold rush into American and world history, the events that were happening at the time, and how the discovery of gold in California had an impact on these events. One of these events discussed in the book was the building of the transcontinental railroad, which in itself is a fascinating story. I highly recommend this book as well as "Nothing Like it in the World: The Men Who Build the T ...more
I can honestly say that the depth of knowledge acquired during the reading of this book about the Gold Rush, was so profound and deep in comparison to anything I had known about the Gold Rush prior to reading this book.

Knowledge about Gold Rush

Prior to reading this book: 1%
After reading this book: 99%

This is the only book you will ever need to purchase on the Gold Rush.

Also, Mr. Brands is such a fantastic writer. I still remember Jesse Benton picking up her skirt to cross through Guatemala in r
The first half of this book is fascinating and really enables you to understand the enormous courage that was needed by those first explorers.

Unfortunately the second half then just becomes a list of political wrangling, moves and countermoves.

Had this book continued along the human interest theme I would have rated it much higher.

Read the first half and forget the second.
Jun 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Academic and Armchair Historians, Anyone whose heart is in San Francisco
The Age of Gold is an enjoyable read on the Gold Rush in California and its national and global effects, told through the diaries, anecdotes, and legends of various individuals involved. Academics and casual readers alike will enjoy this book, which is remarkably engaging both in substance and style.

The book begins at Sutter's Fort and Sutter's Mill, the latter being the site at which the first gold was discovered. Brands begins the setting in a narrative style, complete with picturesque scene-s
Aric Cushing
Brands was a finalist for the Pulitzer for his book on Abraham Lincoln. This book follows in the same line with incredible anecdotes of adventurers making their way to California from France, Australia, Mexico, etc. Brands weaves all these amazing stories while keeping your interest about how CA shaped the industry we know today, as well as pushed our country into the Civil War circuitously. This book is riveting, and packed with details. From Leland Stanford and the railroad monopoly, the well ...more
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
I like to read books about the places I visit. That’s why I picked The Age of Gold. It came highly recommended and it did not disappoint.

Gold is found during the building of Sutter’s Mill in California. People began to flood into California, risking death, willing to sacrifice everything for a chance to get rich.

Brands hones in on his characters---Sutter, young men headed to California from all parts, Stanford, Hearst---until the book feels more like a novel than a history book.

I’m looking forw
Gary Sedivy
Aug 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a great book, full of 'nickel knowledge'. Great telling of how the discovery of gold in California changed not only the U.S., but the whole world. We see how San Francisco developed; how much serendipity is almost the equal of hard work and effort; how people who bluff their way through and succeed, or bluff their way and run smack into the brick wall. We see the famous (Fremont) and the obscure.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
Brands is such a terrific storyteller.

What I really liked about this book is how it takes an event like the discovery of Gold in California at Sutter's Mill and shows how it influenced major aspects of American history like the Transcontinental Railroad, expansion of the U.S., Compromise of 1850, Civil War, Gold Standard and even the American spirit.

But the heart of the book is its people and stories and in that regard, this book excels.
Jan 08, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Brad by: Economist
Shelves: history
A highly readable account of the California Gold Rush. The book discusses several of the key personalities of the era (walking through San Francisco, I can now match a street name to a historical figure). It also goes into the struggles of several families--both the journey and their lives in the mines. Though a 500 page book, it was a fast read. I enjoyed his writing style.
Feb 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Well written and documented. The author has tied in many quotes from personal journals of people who witnessed or participated in the events described. The scope of the book goes well beyond the title subject to present a complete picture of the impact of the discovery well beyond California and the U.S.
Mar 20, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no idea
Pretty good history of the California gold rush. Brands is known as the guy that did the excellent Benjamin Franklin biography.

The book uses correspondences from 49ers and other to piece together a delightful history that reads like a narrative.
Jan 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book really ties in the effect events in California had in the creation of our nation as we know it. Very unlikely the North wins the war without this Gold Rush. Great read for non-fiction fans!
Dan Ripke
Nov 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Very good history of gold and its role in the early days of California. Follows how gold impacts dozens of individuals lives.
Aaron Plunk
Aug 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
great book with lots of good information about the goldrush and the effects it had on not only California but the young country.
Steve Shilstone
Dec 16, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Plenty of particular personal tales stud this sweeping history of what happened after the cry from California of 'Gold on the American River!' made its way around the world.
George Fodor
Dec 24, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in a key turning point of American history.
Brands includes exquisitely detailed physical descriptions of key characters. I especially appreciate his ability to tell a story as well as document history.
Dec 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Perhaps it's because I've recently moved to Sacramento area, but I found the Gold Rush/CA history in this book fascinating. Many interesting smaller stories within this well-written book.
The ‘California Gold Rush’ is known as one of the most iconic time periods in American history not only because of the economic boom that it brought west but because of the idealistic American values that came with it. ‘Manifest Destiny’ is an idea that has caressed the minds of some of the greatest people in history. These people have been in different circumstances and no two experiences are exactly alike. Even though the term was coined in the United States it is still an ideal that has been ...more
George Dziuk
Sep 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’ve always found the gold rush to be a fascinating time. This massive sea of people all hell bent on getting rich quick and how that jumpstarted the creation of California as a state. H.W. Brands does a good job of explaining what that was like in Age of Gold.

I found the first two book sections concerning the race to California by the estimated 250,000 “Argonauts” and their life mining within the placers during the heydays of the early rush to be the most interesting. Brands describes both the
Andrew Canfield
The Age of Gold is the second H.W. Brands book I have read, and this one was no less masterfully written than the first. The University of Texas-Austin based history professor is able to write in a way that hooks readers, mixing in anecdotes and historical facts in a way that doesn't become repetitive or a chore to read.

This book focuses primarily on the late 1840s-early 1850s Gold Rush in (and to) what was then the territory of California. It begins by telling about journeys both across the U.S
Terry Tucker
Jun 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Informative. Alarmingly Captivating

This is a focused and sweeping history of California that essentially begins with the Gold Rush of 1848. The author uses an abundance of primary sources to present this thesis - that the Gold Rush profoundly changed American and World History. This is a compelling history. The intersection of the lives of so many people, institutions and events is nothing short of astonishing.

Sutter, Marshall, Fremont, Stanford, Sherman, Hearst and Hoover - all known in Americ
Sep 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This. Was. Great! Brands has a way of making the most minute details immediate and salient. His use of seemingly small individual stories to illustrate some of the biggest events in American history create connections that vividly illustrate the history of the Gold Rush, of California, of the Mormons, of the transcontinental railroad, of the American banking system, and of so much more, while also hooking the reader on a deeply emotional level. Like after finishing a great novel, I find myself b ...more
Jul 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This is a very in-depth exploration of not only the gold rush, but also the settling of California as a state. As such, it is very educational and informative. I read it while on vacation in that area of California, so I found it very helpful as I explored and learned about the region. It's not a fast or an easy read, but it's worth the time if you really want to learn about the people, the places and the great changes happening.
Peter C Lyon
Aug 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is a cascading good time and a fun read. I bought it because I'm highly fond of Brands, as I've read this books on Andrew Jackson and the Lone Star Republic. The research was exceptional.

The strongest part was the relationship between California, the national debate on slavery, and gripping micro-stories such as that of Archy, the runaway slave.

Nov 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Brands writes simple straightforward histories, but the story of the gold rush is not a simple story. It is many stories, of men (mostly) from all over heading to California, to the politics of California, and the country through the civil war, to the economics of gold, and then silver in Nevada. Brands tells the tale without relish, but with plenty of spice. Real gold.
Oct 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In addition to the Gold Rush this books clarifies the origination of the State of California . The players in this saga are names we all know as Californians and are enriched by this historical perspective.
Kyle Anderson
Some really interesting sections, entertaining when it follows the human interest aspects of the gold rush. Lost interest in places where it tries to build too much of a peripheral picture.
Dec 14, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I would give this book three and a half stars, but one can not do that. The book was quite informative about the people and events which populated California, quickly after its acquisition from Mexico after the Mexican American war.

First off, anyone who does not believe that the US never had a war of acquisition do not know about the Mexican-American war, nor the Spanish American war. It was agrued quite convincingly that the president at the time, Polk, really wanted California and pretty much
Josh Brett
Jun 21, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating look at the transformation of California and the United States wrought by the discovery of gold, told through the eyes of a few protagonists, not only "Great Men" like Sutter, Fremont, Sherman, and Stanford, but many now anonymous miners. The first section on the various routes to California taken by the "Argonauts" was particularly interesting, simply for the revelation that pre-railroad travel to California was something akin to an interplanetary journey in terms of hardship, risk, ...more
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Henry William Brands was born in Portland, Oregon, where he lived until he went to California for college. He attended Stanford University and studied history and mathematics. After graduating he became a traveling salesman, with a territory that spanned the West from the Pacific to Colorado. His wanderlust diminished after several trips across the Great Basin, and he turned to sales of a differen ...more
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“Let this constitution go forth from this convention, and from the new state, a model instrument of liberal and enlightened principles.” 0 likes
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