Category Archives: Book Reviews

Stories of the Humboldt Wagon Road

According to the back cover, Andy Mark’s new book promises “Thrills, Chills & Mills.” You could say that it also features Spills, ‘Villes, and even Kills. In Stories of the Humboldt Wagon Road he tells the history of the road … Continue reading

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A Wicked War

I do not think there was ever a more wicked war than that waged by the United States on Mexico. I thought so at the time, when I was a youngster, only I had not moral courage enough to resign. … Continue reading

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“The Best Land Under Heaven”

On April 14, 1846, the Donner and Reed families set out from Springfield, Illinois, for Independence, Missouri, to commence their journey to a place that had been advertised to them as “the best land under heaven.” Around this core would … Continue reading

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California Emigrant Letters

Feather River, Sept. 29, 1849 Now I will tell you what we have done since we got here; we have worked eight days and have made $16,000 — we have had extremely good luck, are on the Feather River, and … Continue reading

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Hellacious California

What is a California prayer book? Would you drink tarantula juice? Would you go in for pedestrianism? What was the Egg War? Would you invest in a Patent Hydro Electro Magnetic Goldometer that promised to find gold and water? (Save … Continue reading

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The Trees of Bidwell Park

I went to ABC Books (on Mangrove Ave. in Chico) yesterday and bought a copy of The Trees of Bidwell Park, written by Roger J. Lederer and illustrated in color by Carol E. Burt. (I encourage you to buy local … Continue reading

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For California’s Gold

I enjoy reading historical fiction, but only if I know it is as authentic as possible. Nothing makes me more testy than to have an anachronism intrude into a good story.  I remember one where two young men arrived by … Continue reading

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Ghosts of Gold Mountain

Ghosts of Gold Mountain, by Gordon H. Chang, is “the epic story of the Chinese who built the transcontinental railroad,” a book that combines faultless scholarship with compelling storytelling. (published by Houghton, Mifflin, Harcourt, 2019; available at your public library.) … Continue reading

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Rise, Ruin & Restoration: A Review

Sutter’s Fort stands at the center of California history. Here its biography, telling the  story of that iconic fort from the day John Sutter arrived at the spot in August 1839, through its building and its decline, to the State … Continue reading

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Gold Rush Stories

Gary Noy has done it again. A few years ago I read and reviewed his book Sierra Stories. Now he has a new book: Gold Rush Stories: 49 Tales of Seekers, Scoundrels, Loss, and Luck, published by Heyday Books. It … Continue reading

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