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Gold Diggers: Striking it Rich in the Klondike

por Charlotte Gray

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1038263,557 (4.17)23
Chronicles the Klondike gold rush by following the adventures of six individuals whose lives were impacted by "Klondike fever," including a miner, a business woman, a British journalist, a member of the Canadian Mounties, and writer Jack London.
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Mostrando 1-5 de 8 (seguinte | mostrar todos)
Yukon
  BooksInMirror | Feb 19, 2024 |
Historian Charlotte Gray uses the stories of six different people to tell the overriding story of the Klondike gold rush. I liked especially that she told the story of Belinda Mulrooney; it’s easy to think of the gold rush as being a male preserve, but here was a successful businesswoman running hotels and other ventures in a flourishing Dawson City. I did appreciate the inclusion of the Han people, although now I want to read a book focused specifically on them. I would recommend this book if you’re interested in Canadian history and want a little more than the usual names. ( )
  rabbitprincess | Apr 9, 2021 |
I very much enjoyed this interesting read about the Yukon gold rush. In it, the author weaves the stories of 6 people who sought their fortunes in very different ways in the Klondike during that time. I particularly enjoyed reading about Jack London as his novella "Call of the Wild" was a favourite childhood read. I also liked learning about Belinda Mulrooney and Flora Shaw, pioneering women who were instrumental in the development of Dawson City. All in all, Gray's book is an informative read about an integral part of Canada's history. ( )
  Jane-Phillips | Feb 27, 2018 |
Gray took most of her info from journals so it was quite interesting. Good pictures. ( )
  mahallett | Jan 22, 2018 |
This awesome book is not about this kind of gold digging (Nathaniel wondered?) Though, Jamie Foxx and Kanye West in the Klondike in 1896 probably would have been awesome. At the very least, the gambling halls, bars and hookers would have been even more rich from their patronage!

So...not about:

but totally about:

In seriousness, though, Gray did a great job with the book. Gold Diggers covers the gold rush period from 1896 till 1899, viewed through the narratives of prospector William Haskell, business woman Belinda Mulrooney, Jesuit missionary Father William Judge, author Jack London, journalist Flora Shaw of the London Times, and Superintendent Sam Steele of the North West Mounted Police. Reflecting the demographics of the gold rush, four of the characters are American; one is British, and one Canadian.

From the Globe and Mail:

There are, of course, scores of books about particular aspects of the Klondike Gold Rush, but perhaps only three authors can be said to have written thoughtful and truly enlightening narratives of the whole gaudy affair.

Tappan Adney, the famed canoeist, joined the rush on behalf of Harper’s Weekly, out-reporting all the more famous journalists and producing The Klondike Stampede in 1900, when the ashes of the event were still warm.

Fifty-one years later came The Big Pan-Out, which added an understanding of economics to the story. Strangely, it has never been reprinted, and its author, Kathryn Winslow, seemed to have published almost nothing else (but is remembered as the patron of American novelist Henry Miller).

And of course there is Pierre Berton’s Klondike (1958). Charlotte Gray, who has steadily become Canada’s most important and certainly most careful and most readable producer of popular narrative history, notes that her famed predecessor “reverberated with [...] exuberance and sweaty machismo.”

She, herself, does not, thank [Darwin] (or God or FSM or whomever you would like to thank, here).

In Gold Diggers: Striking It Rich in the Klondike, Gray sets out to revivify “the experience of a few characters in this large historical drama [and] to jigsaw together real stories to illuminate, over a century later, life in Dawson City” when it was booming with a deafening report. All but one of the handful of individuals she has chosen are already quite familiar, but they will never appear quite the same again once the readers have seen how she has made use of them.

Rev. William Judge, S.J., the so-called Saint of Dawson, was “a strange character – ascetic, deeply religious, guileless, but not naive. Those who met him recognized the quality of the man.” He had no interest whatever in gold and, being in his late 40s, “was twice the age of most men there,” such as Jack London, 21. London spent a year in the Yukon soaking up material for future short stories but left with a mere in $4.50 in gold and only one tooth in his young head, having lost the others to scurvy. Then there is the heroic yet vaguely Gilbert-and-Sullivan-ish character of Samuel Steele of the North-West Mounted Police, a well-meaning martinet not completely untouched by the rampant corruption that Gray unravels so well.

Gray is one of those [great] authors who writes with equally sympathetic understanding of both men and women, free of judgmental assumptions or home-team boosterism. As a result, Steele comes across as the other half of his fellow imperialist tub-thumper Flora Shaw, special correspondent of The Times of London. A female colleague described Shaw as being “as clever as they make them, capable of any immense amount of work, as hard as nails and talking like a Times leader all the time.” When supping with a group of Mounties and three Tlingit prisoners soon to be hanged, Shaw “behaved as graciously as if she was joining her friend the Duchess of Devonshire for dinner.” (Gray goes on to mention that Shaw was active in the anti-women’s-suffrage movement, a fact that could use some elaboration.)

The two Dawsonites who seem closest to Gray’s heart are Belinda Mulrooney and Bill Haskell. The former lived until 1967, nine years longer than even Robert W. Service, the last and least of Gray’s picks. She was a working-class Irishwoman who “could handle any amount of deprivation as long as she was making money.” And she made a huge pile of it, as a hotelier and deal-maker, only to fall prey to a professional con man posing as a French count. As for Haskell, he was one of the Yukon veterans who, on hearing of the big strike on the Klondike River, lit out from the community of Fortymile, the proto-Dawson some distance downstream, near the Alaska border. He was a working stiff and one of what Gray calls the “obsessive, reckless individuals” drawn to such commotions. Soon after leaving Dawson, heartbroken by the death of his mining buddy and business partner, he published a vivid but now obscure memoir and then disappeared completely from the historical record.

A deep researcher and skilled explainer, Gray is also shrewd, calm and confident in the way she creates her book’s complex architecture. She is likewise an engaging stylist. Describing one of the catastrophic fires to which Dawson, a place made of canvas and green lumber, was prone, she writes: “People rushed out of the dance halls and bars as the roar of the flames competed with the fiddles and laughter.”

And she keeps her subtext subtle. Like Berton, she compares charmingly chaotic Dawson, held in check by cops and soldiers, with wide-open Skagway on the U.S. side, ruled by crooks and murderers. But she allows readers to discover for themselves the important underlying paradox. It is this: Exotic colonies, though authoritarian by nature, are also often the freest of places, as they’re so remote from the seats of centralized power. Hannah Arendt, the great political philosopher, once suggested that the best form of government is the temporary kind that pops up organically immediately after the revolution and dies as soon as a new constitution gets written. For one noisy moment in 1898, Dawson must have been such a spot. ( )
  JooniperD | Apr 5, 2013 |
Mostrando 1-5 de 8 (seguinte | mostrar todos)
Charlotte Gray's vibrant account of the lives of six hardy Dawson City personalities gives us a new view of the North and the gold diggers who gave the place its best stories.
adicionada por vancouverdeb | editarVancouver Sun Newspaper, Paul Gessel (Dec 26, 2010)
 
Charlotte Gray's vibrant account of the lives of six hardy Dawson City personalities gives us a new view of the North and the gold diggers who gave the place its best stories.
adicionada por vancouverdeb | editarVancouver Sun Newspaper, Charlotte Gray (Dec 26, 2010)
 
Like the Klondike’s gold-laden streams, historians have been picking over the glory days of Dawson City, Yukon, for more than a century. The gold ran out long ago. Are there any stories left worth telling?

With Gold Diggers, Canadian biographer Charlotte Gray turns her formidable attention to the gold rush of 1896. Yet Pierre Berton’s Klondike: The Last Great Gold Rush, which first appeared over 50 years ago, still stands as the iconic popular history of that era.
Where Pierre Berton featured a “cast of major characters” that numbered nearly 50, Gray pares her attention down to just six key figures: prospector Bill Haskell, hotel owner Belinda Mulrooney, Jesuit priest William Judge, Mountie Sam Steele, British journalist Flora Shaw, and soon-to-be famous but struggling writer Jack London.

Freed from the obligation of having to tell the encyclopedic story of Dawson City’s meteoric rise and fall, the author uses her six Klondikers to reveal many untapped veins of historical interest
Gray reveals a little-known ecclesiastical struggle over ministering to Dawson City’s sinful hordes. American and Canadian miners come into sharp conflict over which holiday—Independence Day or Victoria Day—should take precedence. She details the birth of a bitter rivalry between entrepreneur Mulrooney and mining magnate Big Alex McDonald.

And while Pierre Berton spent half a sentence on Shaw, the colonial correspondent for the Times of London, Gray provides a lengthy character sketch of this formidable woman and the surprising influence she wielded over Canadian government policy in the Klondike. The rush may be long over, but thar’s still plenty of story gold in them hills.

adicionada por vancouverdeb | editarMcLean's Magazine
 

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For Friends in Dawson, then and now.
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The wide river swept the little boat along in its silty current.
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Gold Diggers is also on Library Thing with the title Gold Diggers: Striking it Rich in the Klondike . These books are one and the same.
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Chronicles the Klondike gold rush by following the adventures of six individuals whose lives were impacted by "Klondike fever," including a miner, a business woman, a British journalist, a member of the Canadian Mounties, and writer Jack London.

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