Hunt chronicles 40 colorful years of Alaskan booms and depressions, from the first prospectors, the Klondike and Nome stampedes, through the later gold discoveries in Fairbanks and smaller settlements. He also includes a chapter on the literary frontier: Jack London with his brute men and human animals, balladeer Robert Service (""The Shooting of Dan McGrew,"" ""The Cremation of Sam McGee""), and Rex Beach (The Spoilers). Forty Mile, Eagle, Circle, Coldfoot, Caro, Dawson, Skag-way and others all flourished briefly, sometimes with comfortable homes, dancing girls, opera houses, then declined or died, their lodes inevitably insubstantial and a bet with time. The law itself was as fickle and feverish as the sourdoughs, prostitutes, thieves, drunkards, hunters, gamblers and quick guns to whom it tried to bring order and justice. But the glory of the north was as much in the small people as the more extravagant swindlers and big winners. Hunt pans the whole area with a fine eye for paydirt in simple pick-and-spade gold seekers, and in the romantic yearnings of desolation's hopefuls. His style is rapid, amused, seldom distinguished but always strongly in love with the beans and bacon of everyday life.