GOLD FEVER by George W. Groh


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While there may have been gold in them thar hills, only lead will be mined by readers of this book. An attempt to chronicle the illnesses which beset the Forty-Niners and the practices of the physicians who ministered to them, Gold Fever simply doesn't pan out. For one thing, its author hasn't really made up his mind about his subject. Is this work a medical history of the gold rush? or is it a history of the gold rush itself? Only Mr. Groh knows. Granted, specialized studies must be placed within the context of the general subject, but at least half of this book consists of well known background material. The rest is a repetitious catalogue of man after man dying of cholera and scurvy. ""The casual reader of this book might get the impression that in the gold rush nearly everyone died,"" Mr. Groh tells us in the foreword to his ""horrifying and hilarious"" account. But the only thing vaguely funny about Gold Fever is the implied belief that it is deserving of more than the casual reader. Of course the book abounds in unintentional humor. Having described a poor soul who bit into buffalo dung believing it to be a steak, Mr. Groh says in all seriousness, ""this was exactly the kind of thing that could lead to trouble."" Perhaps this is what he means by ""both horrifying and hilarious."" If it's meant to take off like Cat Ballou, it doesn't.

Pub Date: Sept. 23rd, 1966
Publisher: Morrow