Kyle E. Ciani, Reviews Editor
Land of Golden Dreams: California in the Gold Rush Decade, 1848-1858.
By Peter J. Blodgett. San Marino: Huntington Library Press, 1999. 147 Pages, illustrations, index. $20.95 Clothbound; $14.95 Paperback.
One of the best nuggets to be mined from the celebration of the California Gold Rush Sesquicentennial was an exhibit at the Huntington Library and its accompanying published catalog. Drawing upon the magnificent resources on the West in the Huntington Library collections, Blodgett assembled an exhibit that used books, drawings, photographs, paintings and artifacts to explore the Gold Rush era. As such it goes way beyond the narrow narrative of gold mining and examines the area before the Gold Rush, the trip to California, and life in the gold country. The exhibit also explores the broader impact of the rush on California, including its impact on political development, race relations, the development of a new society, and the emergence of the California Dream, which has shaped the identity of the region for over a century. The book is beautiful, as it reproduces, often in color, many of the documents. Coupled with the informed text, Land of Golden Dreams is both an interesting and entertaining book for the general reader and a serious examination of the impact of the Gold Rush for the scholar.