The Age of Gold by H.W. Brands
The California Gold Rush and the New American Dream

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“I have found it.” These words, uttered by the man who first discovered gold on the American River in 1848, triggered the most astonishing mass movement of peoples since the Crusades. California’s gold drew fortune-seekers from the ends of the earth. It accelerated America’s imperial expansion and exacerbated the tensions that exploded in the Civil War. And, as H. W. Brands makes clear in this spellbinding book, the Gold Rush inspired a new American dream—the “dream of instant wealth, won by audacity and good luck.”
Brands tells his epic story from multiple perspectives: of adventurers John and Jessie Fremont, entrepreneur Leland Stanford, and the wry observer Samuel Clemens—side by side with prospectors, soldiers, and scoundrels. He imparts a visceral sense of the distances they traveled, the suffering they endured, and the fortunes they made and lost. Impressive in its scholarship and overflowing with life, The Age of Gold is history in the grand traditions of Stephen Ambrose and David McCullough.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

About H.W. Brands

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H. W. BRANDS is the Dickson Allen Anderson Professor of History at the University of Texas at Austin. A New York Times bestselling author, he was the finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in biography for The First American and again for Traitor to His Class. His website is

Author Residence: Austin, TX
Published December 10, 2008 by Anchor. 592 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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Rather than concentrating exclusively on these colorful characters, however, Brands (History/Texas A&M Univ.) addresses the sweeping effects of the Gold Rush, which not only opened the American West to settlement but also “helped initiate the modern era of American economic development” by forgin...

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The Guardian

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The Age of Gold: The Story of an Obsession that Swept the World by HW Brands 547pp, Heinemann, £20 When James Marshall found gold in California, 40 miles from Sutter's Fort, in January 1848, he triggered a mass psychosis or gold fever that transformed the American nation.

May 07 2005 | Read Full Review of The Age of Gold: The Californ...

Publishers Weekly

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The gold rush of 1848, says Brands, was a watershed in American history, helping mold the country into its modern shape, transforming the wilderness and pushing the country into civil war.

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