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Extended Audio Sample The Age of Gold: The California Gold Rush and the New American Dream Audiobook, by H. W. Brands Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (273 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: H. W. Brands Narrator: Grover Gardner Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: May 2002 ISBN: 9780736696999
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By the Author of the Bestselling Pulitzer Prize Finalist THE FIRST AMERICAN

THEY WENT WEST TO CHANGE THEIR LIVES AND IN THE BARGAIN THEY CHANGED THE WORLD. THIS IS THE EXTRAORDINARY STORY OF THE MEN AND WOMEN OF THE GOLD RUSH.

When gold was first discovered on the American River above Sutter's Fort in January 1848, California was sparsely populated frontier territory not yet ceded to the United States from Mexixo. The discovery triggered a massive influx as hundreds of thousands of people scrambled to California in search of riches, braving dangerous journeys across the Pacific, around Cape Horn, and through the Isthmus of Panama, as well as across America's vast, unsettled wilderness. Cities sprang up overnight, in response to the demand for supplies and services of all kinds. By 1850, California had become a state -- the fastest journey to statehood in U.S. history. It had also become a symbol of what America stood for and of where it was going.

In The Age of Gold, H. W. Brands explores the far-reaching implications of this pivotal point in U.S. history, weaving the politics of the times with the gripping stories of individuals that displays both the best and the worse of the American character. He discusses the national issues that exploded around the ratification of California's statehood, hastening the clouds that would lead to the Civil War. He tells the stories of the great fortunes made by such memorable figures as John and Jessie Fremont, Leland Stanford and George Hearst -- and of great fortunes lost by hundreds now forgotten by history. And he reveals the profound effect of the Gold Rush on the way Americans viewed their destinies, as the Puritan ethic of hard work and the gradual accumulation of worldly riches gave way to the notion of getting rich quickly.


From the Hardcover edition. Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Fascinating. . . . Brands brings the era and its characters to life in a remarkably entertaining narrative that is meticulously researched and crisply written. . . . The Age of Gold is historical reporting at its best. Arizona Daily Star
  • A barn burner. . . . Masterfully sketched historical figures, subtly developed themes, and epically well-braided stories. . . . There’s only one thing to say . . . and that’s ‘Eureka!’ San Francisco Chronicle
  • Exuberant. . . . Entertaining, lively. . . . Brands [is] a wonderfully skilled narrative historian. Los Angeles Times
  • Highly readable and entertaining. . . . History titles loom large, and perhaps none larger than The Age of Gold. Houston Chronicle
  • A triumph. . . . Brands has struck gold. The Oregonian
  • An engrossing, multifaceted history. The New York Times
  • Populated with colorful California characters. . . . Brands makes a convincing case that the discovery of gold was a seminal event in American history. Boston Herald
  • [H. W. Brands] will change the way you see history. . . . The Age of Gold brilliantly pans the historical record for nuggets of hardship and, in the process, hits upon a mother lode of a story. Austin American-Statesman
  • Gripping. . . . Thoroughly researched. . . . An eminently readable, detail-filled book. Chicago Tribune
  • A serious, comprehensive study, filled with memorable visions and interesting observations. . . . A book that explores history, politics, geology, adventure and industry with omnibus enthusiasm. . . . Its author, like the miners of the gold rush themselves, leaves no stone unturned. The San Diego Union-Tribune
  • A fine, robust telling of one of the greatest adventure stories in history. David McCullough, Pulitzer Prize—winning author of John Adams
  • Brands assembles a colorful collection of people swept into this craze from around the world . . . in[to] a dazzling setting that conveys the world-changing effects of this era. . . . [He is a] master storyteller. The Christian Science Monitor
  • Few historians can tell a tale better than Brands. Dallas Morning News

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Dan Ripke | 2/7/2014

    " Very good history of gold and its role in the early days of California. Follows how gold impacts dozens of individuals lives. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 George Fodor | 1/21/2014

    " Brands includes exquisitely detailed physical descriptions of key characters. I especially appreciate his ability to tell a story as well as document history. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Linda | 1/17/2014

    " Excellent, wide-ranging history of the CA gold rush with details about the trips people took to get to CA, John Fremont, William Sherman, the first railroad to cross the country, and how the gold rush shaped American attitudes and expectations. Fun and fascinating. Good read "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jeffrey | 12/19/2013

    " This book really ties in the effect events in California had in the creation of our nation as we know it. Very unlikely the North wins the war without this Gold Rush. Great read for non-fiction fans! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Blaine DeSantis | 10/30/2013

    " A very informative book that everyone should read. Deals not just with gold, but also with the stock market craze and how we are all looking to get rich quick - even the family of the President of the US!! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Bill Johnson | 9/10/2013

    " Stories from newspapers, journals, and letters about people who risked everything to journey to California after hearing the rumor of the discovery of gold. The author suggests that the rush to find gold may have significanly altered the resolution of the issue of slavery. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tom Hastings | 8/29/2013

    " Very readable history of the California Gold Rush. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jim Labay | 8/26/2013

    " This was the first H. W. Brands book I read and I've since become a big fan of his writing. This book is a great read. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Natalie | 8/5/2013

    " I bought this book a couple of years ago but was inspired to go back to it after a recent drive up the coast. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Virginia | 7/31/2013

    " Good review of California History during 19th Century "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Tim Shores | 1/25/2013

    " as fun as a muggy afternoon at an animatronic frontier museum that's mostly gift shop. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kylia | 12/3/2012

    " This was an interesting read, but it was a bit too long winded for me. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kim | 6/20/2012

    " Gripping from start to finish - we honestly couldn't wait to get back in the car and keep listening... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Christopher | 2/26/2012

    " Great book to read on a trip to Sacramento and Nevada City and surrounding area. Well-written and extensively researched history of the California Gold Rush. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Chris | 12/1/2011

    " Reads like a novel, and with a lot of analysis of the causes and effects of the gold rush. Highly recommended. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Amanda | 11/25/2011

    " Just when you thought you'd read it all... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Caitlin | 10/30/2011

    " As usual, H.W. Brands provides a very readable account of the Gold Rush era. Any history book by this author is a recommended read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Doug Hauser | 7/11/2011

    " Brands does a great job of telling the gold rush story. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mark | 4/13/2011

    " One of the top books for me for 2008. My California history is a bit sketchy; this was a great, fun read about the gold rush era, and filled in some blanks. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Damon | 3/24/2011

    " Very interesting account of the forces of unbridled capitalism in the latter half of the nineteenth century. Important subject, given how many people would love to take the country back there. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 laura | 12/13/2010

    " This suffered from what the Korean War history I read a month ago suffered from, namely disjointed albeit interesting chapters. I will be reading more from this historian and am quite hopeful that a more focused subject area will yield a great book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Graham | 11/30/2010

    " This book is an interesting Narrative on the Early development of the American Economy. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 David | 11/7/2010

    " Very enjoyable read. It not only shows where we've come from, but where we might be going again. "

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About the Author

H. W. Brands is the bestselling author and editor of more than twenty books. He has been a professor at Vanderbilt and Texas A&M universities, and he is currently the Dickson Allen Anderson Professor of History at the University of Texas at Austin. Two of his books, Traitor to His Class and The First American, were finalists for the Pulitzer Prize. His other works include Andrew Jackson, Age of Gold, and TR. He lectures frequently on historical and current events and has appeared on numerous national radio and television programs. He resides in Austin, Texas.

About the Narrator

Grover Gardner (a.k.a. Tom Parker) is an award-winning narrator with over eight hundred titles to his credit. Named one of the “Best Voices of the Century” and a Golden Voice by AudioFile magazine, he has won three prestigious Audie Awards, was chosen Narrator of the Year for 2005 by Publishers Weekly, and has earned thirty-seven Earphones Awards.