An engaged—but not always engaging—travel/adventure memoir.




A British journalist muses on his journey through California Gold Country.

Former Independent chief reporter Boggan (Follow the Money: A Month in the Life of a Ten-Dollar Bill, 2012) first took interest in gold when its value topped $1,000 per ounce in 2008. His work as a journalist led him to interview people who left jobs and families to hunt for gold in California. Most never struck it rich and ended up broke, but Boggan discovered that they “cheerfully…trussed up all sense of reason and kept on digging” anyway. Intrigued by this phenomenon, the author began studying the history of the California Gold Rush and watching the gold market. In 2013, he flew to San Francisco knowing, and fully accepting, that “odds [were] stacked against [him].” Following in the footsteps of a group of forty-niners whose stories he tells alongside his own, Boggan began his adventures at the northern end of California on the Klamath River, marveling at the beauty of the landscape and living in mortal fear of being eaten alive by bears. As historically well-informed as he was about Gold Country, the author had no practical knowledge of how to prospect. He learned as he went along from people like a retired pipe fitter who sold everything to live in an RV and look for gold and a former U.S. Navy Seal who practiced extreme underwater prospecting. Boggan found only a few flakes of gold, which he coveted like “a miser in a mountain cave.” His rewards were far more intangible: experiences with unforgettable people and landscapes and insight into the “malady” that had compelled him to take his journey in the first place. Boggan’s narrative and persona are charming, but they are not quite enough to make up for a story that, in its attempt to cover so much historical and personal ground, is digressive and unevenly paced.

An engaged—but not always engaging—travel/adventure memoir.

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-78074-696-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Oneworld Publications

Review Posted Online: May 13, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2015

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This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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