A lively, delightful reenactment of a signal era of “Klondike mythology.”




Tracing the crossed paths of six Klondikers caught up in “the last great gold rush in history.”

Among the countless dreamers, adventurers, entrepreneurs, tenderfoots, prostitutes, card sharps and con men who rushed to the northwest after news of the 1896 Klondike strike, Gray (Reluctant Genius: Alexander Graham Bell and the Passion for Invention, 2006, etc.) focuses on six individuals: Bill Haskell, a miner early to the stampede who struck gold but had to suffer the drowning death of his partner; Father William Judge, the selfless Jesuit and seemingly the only Yukon dweller not obsessed with gold; Belinda Mulrooney, the brash and thoroughly ruthless shopkeeper, restaurateur, hotelier and property magnate; Jack London, who mined literary gold from his year in the Klondike; Flora Shaw, correspondent for the Times of London, whose dispatches confirmed the strike’s significant dimensions and the corruption among Canadian officials; and Sam Steele, hardy lawman amid the fray. No armchair rambler, the author has visited the territory, and this familiarity comes through in her descriptions of the beauty and terror of the landscape, her keen appreciation of the near–Arctic Circle climate and her vivid depiction then and now of Dawson City, the log-cabin town at the confluence of the Yukon and Klondike Rivers, 4,000 miles from the nearest city. Relying on memoirs and letters, Gray memorably resuscitates the life of the miners: the fortuity of staking a claim, the primitive and backbreaking methods they used to extract gold from the earth, the harsh conditions under which they labored and the manifold diseases that afflicted them. Their appalling treatment of the native Han people and their desecration of the landscape were but two of the unfortunate byproducts of the gold fever that allowed a pauper to imagine becoming a millionaire overnight.

A lively, delightful reenactment of a signal era of “Klondike mythology.”

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-58243-611-1

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Counterpoint

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2010

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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