SUTTER'S FORT: Gateway to the Gold Fields by Oscar Lewis

SUTTER'S FORT: Gateway to the Gold Fields

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Lewis' celebrated tape-recorder, with which he realized The Children of Sanchea, is missing here since all the principals are dead, but it will be remembered that before that he had achieved a reputation as a writer-historian of the early west. This is not one of the more detailed installments in this publisher's American Forts series, but it is strikingly readable. Lewis tunes his typewriter to the life of John Sutter, a Swiss who abandoned his wife and four children and came to America to escape imprisonment for debt. He did not see, or perhaps even think about, his family again for fifteen years. Meanwhile, he was so opposed to being governed himself that he built a town in the California wilderness Which he could govern. The town was at the fork where the Sacramento and American Rivers met. During his uneasy rise, he became addicted to a military mask, alcohol, and to buying things he couldn't pay for. Just as his fortunes hit their peak, gold was discovered at his new sawmill-and Sutter's considerable empire crumbled. He was robbed, trampled and cheated to pieces in the gold rush. Not only that, his family returned to his board. Much of his failure can be ascribed to him, but also there was no law to save his cattle, crops or land. The gold rush is treated adequately, but it's Sutter's book and a good one.

Publisher: Prentice-Hall