Brad Hopkins's Reviews > The Floor of Heaven: A True Tale of the Last Frontier & the Yukon Gold Rush

The Floor of Heaven by Howard Blum
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Mar 02, 2012

it was amazing

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 who became a Pinkerton detective) and George Carmack (the prospector-turned-indian-turned-millionaire) and their impact on the gold rush that would draw thousands of people to the punishing Yukon.

It’s hard to read this and not catch a bit of the excitement that everyday people caught as they read about people literally becoming millionaires simply through hard work and a bit of luck. The power of gold fever was such that people of all walks of life quit their jobs and traveled to an unknow land in search of gold. People like the Mayor of Seattle who quit his job and was in such a hurry to leave for Alaska that he wired his resignation from the ship.
In the first winter after gold was struck in the Yukon “at least 100,000 people pushed across the world toward the Yukon and another 1 million people made arrangements to go.” The fever was so great that the US Secretary of the interior and the Canadian minister of the interior released advisories, urging travelers to wait until spring.

As a work of non-fiction this book has all the qualities of a good fiction page-turner - adventure, incomprehensible corruption and complex charaters that you will root for at points and then find yourself rooting against.

I picked this up at the Martinsburg Public Library and would highly recommend it to anyone with a love of character driven, non-fiction. If you enjoy the works of David McCullough or Erik Larson I think you’ll feel right at home with The Floor of Heaven.
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02/08/2017 marked as: read

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