With Golden Visions Bright Before Them (University of Oklahoma Press; $45)

With-Golden-Visions-Bright-Before-Them-book-reviewTapping a veritable wagon train of sources, Will Bagley takes Western enthusiasts along on a trek whereupon they can vicariously suffer daunting travails, polluted water, overgrazing, cholera epidemics on every humbug cutoff until, at last, they (settlers, that is) perhaps die.

Each year told a different story: 30,000 crossed in 1849, 50,000 in 1850, a trickle in 1851 and 70,000 in 1852. In With Golden Visions Bright Before Them, readers learn how California made the West. This golden land “offered hope to oppressed peoples whose futures seemed hopeless.” Once overland miners knew the elephant, they sought the gold and silver pachyderm north, south and everywhere.


—Robert J. Chandler, historical advisor for The California Territorial Quarterly

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