A retracking and crisscrossing of the first major routes across Mexico into California followed by gold hunters and settlers just after the discovery at Sutter's sawmill. The author has utilized an impressive list of primary sources -- to etch out the hazards and oases in the three main approaches to the gold strike. Approximately 30,000 seekers of the dream passed through the northern, central and Southern routes described here in the years 1848-9. The author touches on the fortunes of Various groups and manages a fair look at the main points of departure and refoddering -- Parras, Parral, Janos, El Paso del Norte, Santa Cruz, Mexico City, etc. There are accounts by John Audubon (who preferred fauna to fun cities), young Mr. Baldridge (one of the victims of the outrageously inventive Parker H, French, the flim-flam man), and others. Throughout there are tales of dreadful hardships -- bandits, warrior Indians, and the often treacherous land itself. Mr. Egan's penchant for skipping from group to group and place to place can be confusing, and much is haphazardly anecdotal, but with a finger on one of the maps (promised) the reader can catch the flavor of some incredible journeys.