Documented with historical facts and figures, fully amplified, this is a long novel whose thin thread of story sags pretty heavily, but whose treatment of the course of history in the carving of a new state, California, should appeal to the factual minded. The early years of Shane Malone, orphaned, knowing poverty, are in New York of 1820-46. His energies go into supporting his grandmother and younger brother, but the lure of the West eventually persuades him to become a reporter for Bennett, and romance adds its weight when he falls in love with a Spanish girl, California bound. He joins the expedition to back Stockton and Kearny in their efforts to bring California under the USA. Shane makes his way over the Isthmus, is attached to Stockton's command, learns of the bitter controversy between Fremont, Stockton and Kearny, sees the unequal war between trained US troops and the Californians. Then there's the march of event, -- gold rush, statehood, growth of settlements, establishment of businesses and American ideas and political problems- as Shane relays them back to Bennett in the East. Ultimately he finds his Alicia, vanquishes two enemies, and is on his way to becoming a ranchero. This is a convincing -- sometimes absorbing narrative, a lengthy footnote to the prelude of the Civil War to come, in a four-year skirmish to keep California as a free state.