Synopses & Reviews
When The World Rushed In was first published in 1981, the Washington Post predicted, and#147;It seems unlikely that anyone will write a more comprehensive book about the Gold Rush.and#8221; Twenty years later, no one has emerged to contradict that judgment, and the book has gained recognition as a classic. As the San Francisco Examiner noted, and#147;It is not often that a work of history can be said to supplant every book on the same subject that has gone before it.and#8221;
Through the diary and letters of William Swain--augmented by interpolations from more than five hundred other gold seekers and by letters sent to Swain from his wife and brother back home--the complete cycle of the gold rush is recreated: the overland migration of over thirty thousand men, the struggle to and#147;strike it richand#8221; in the mining camps of the Sierra Nevadas, and the return home through the jungles of the Isthmus of Panama.
In a new preface, the author reappraises our continuing fascination with the and#147;gold rush experienceand#8221; as a defining epoch in western--indeed, American--history.
"A curious work, over 30 years in the making. The manuscript was rewritten six or seven times and still turns one of the most exciting events of the 19th (or any other) century into something akin to an 11th-century monastic chronicle. Based on an upstate New York farmer-turned-argonaut's diary, the flow is as tortuous as the overland trip from St. Joseph to Stringtown. We keep waiting for the unexpected, and don't get it. (There is a limit to the interest one can have in family health. ) So it becomes a drab account with all the usual 49er's disappointments, all the heartaches—none of the excitement or adventure on a grand scale. Although the author says discovery of the diary altered his life, the reader is left wondering about his motives. What makes a man spend a generation working on an 1850-vintage soap opera? It certainly proves that time, labor and devotion do not conquer all!" Reviewed by Andrew Witmer, Virginia Quarterly Review (Copyright 2006 Virginia Quarterly Review)
Includes bibliographical references (p. 508-540) and index.
"The World Rushed In" is a pioneering achievement in historical writing, at once a personal, intimate story of one man's search for wealth and the definitive account of the California gold rush. Building upon the copious journals of gold seeker William Swain, Holliday gives the reader a compelling opportunity to be part of one of America's most exciting and important adventures. Illustrations. 13 maps.
About the Author
J. S. Holliday is former Executive Director of the California Historical Society and of the Oakland Museum of California and Associate Professor of History at California State University at San Francisco, he is also the author of rush for Riches: Gold Fever and the Making of California.