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Download The Floor of Heaven: A True Tale of the Last Frontier and the Yukon Gold Rush Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample The Floor of Heaven: A True Tale of the Last Frontier and the Yukon Gold Rush Audiobook, by Howard Blum Click for printable size audiobook cover
4.24 out of 54.24 out of 54.24 out of 54.24 out of 54.24 out of 5 4.24 (17 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Howard Blum Narrator: John H. Mayer Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: April 2011 ISBN: 9780307914613
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It is the last decade of the nineteenth century. The Wild West has been tamed and its fierce, independent and often violent larger-than-life figures—gun-toting wanderers, trappers, prospectors, Indian fighters, cowboys, and lawmen—are now victims of their own success. They are heroes who’ve outlived their usefulness. But then gold is discovered in Alaska and the adjacent Canadian Klondike and a new frontier suddenly looms—an immense unexplored territory filled with frozen waterways, dark spruce forests, and towering mountains capped by glistening layers of snow and ice.

Fleeing the depths of a worldwide economic depression and driven by starry-eyed visions of vast wealth, tens of thousands rush northward. Joining this throng of greenhorns and grifters, whores and highwaymen, sourdoughs and seers are three unforgettable men. In a true-life tale that rivets from the first page, we meet Charlie Siringo, a top-hand sharp-shooting cowboy who, after futilely trying to settle down with his new bride, becomes one of the Pinkerton Detective Agency’s shrewdest; George Carmack, a California-born American Marine who’s adopted by an American Indian tribe, raises a family with a Taglish woman, makes the discovery that starts off the Yukon Gold Rush—and becomes fabulously rich; and Soapy Smith, a sly and inventive predator-conman who rules a vast criminal empire.

As we follow this trio’s lives, we’re led inexorably into a perplexing mystery. A fortune in gold bars has somehow been stolen from the fortress-like Treadwell Mine in Juneau, Alaska, with no clues as to how the thieves made off with such an immensely heavy cargo. To many, it appears that the crime will never be solved. But the Pinkerton Agency has a reputation for finding the answers that elude others. Charged with getting the job done is Charlie Siringo who discovers that, to run the thieves to ground, he must embark on a rugged cross-territory odyssey that will lead him across frigid waters and through a frozen wilderness. Ultimately, he’ll have his quarry in his sights. But then an additional challenge will present itself. He must face down Soapy Smith and his gang of three hundred cutthroats. Hanging in the balance: George Carmack’s fortune in gold.

At once a compelling true-life mystery and an unforgettable portrait of a time in America’s history when thousands were fired with a vision of riches so unimaginable as to be worth any price, The Floor of Heaven is also an exhilarating tribute to the courage and undaunted spirit of the men and women who helped shape America.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Dramatic and colorful with touches of humor and poignancy, The Floor of Heaven has the spark of a television miniseries and the depth of a novel.  That Blum’s tale of adventure is tall but true makes it all the more enjoyable, particularly because its heartbeat is so keenly American. Associated Press

  • Highly enjoyable…a narrative history set before, during and just after the [Yukon gold] rush.  Blum traces the lives of three storied men – a prospector, a cowboy turned Pinkerton detective and a notorious conman – whose fates intersected over a stash of gold...It must have been a daunting task wrangling all these conflicting stories into a single, seamless tale, but you never feel that effort on a single page of this unabashedly entertaining book. Salon
     
  • True Grit meets Call of the Wild.  That’s the skinny on Howard Blum’s Floor of Heaven, a big sprawling book that pairs colorful cowboys and ornery thieves with noble Indians and the kinds of hardworking prospectors found in Jack London’s tales of the Yukon…Blum’s characters have undeniable folksy charm and ‘grit’…and it doesn’t take much effort to imagine them in a movie.  The Floor of Heaven has the benchmarks of a bestseller. San Francisco Chronicle
  • There is no doubt that all three of Mr. Blum’s main subjects led fascinating lives…Mr. Blum skillfully intercuts [his story’s] plotlines, building momentum toward his big finish…entertaining. Wall Street Journal
  • Packed with larger-than-life characters straight out of a John Ford western…a rich tale…entertaining. American Heritage
  • Full of suspense…an amazing real-life adventure story, peopled with characters that any novelist would be proud to have invented: first-rate entertainment.
    Michael Korda, New York Times bestselling author of HERO, WITH WINGS LIKE EAGLES and IKE
  • In the tradition of great history as great literature…highly recommended…readers will be richly rewarded by Blum’s masterful use of a colorful cast of genuine historical characters set in the majestic northwestern wilderness. Library Journal (Starred Review)
  • Wildly compelling...a truly memorable frontier tale. Kirkus
  • A fascinating story…Detailing crimes perpetrated and solved, relationships both happy and tragic, hardships unthinkable in the modern age, and the cold, magical allure of Alaska and the Yukon, Blum captures the spirit and mood of the last of the Old West. The final pages, especially, are filled with drama and a strange yearning…a huge success. Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
  • A tense, exciting tale filled with colorful characters. Booklist
  • Wonderfully original. This narrative about the Alaskan gold rush has everything but Charlie Chaplin. Resurrecting three of the giant figures of the time -- a cowboy detective, a genius con artist and the luckiest bastard in the Yukon -- Blum laces together a grand string of adventures (all the more impressive for being true) that take us deep into the glory hole and the transforming power of greed. Pope Brock, New York Times bestselling author of Charlatan
  • Brings to life the frenzy of the Yukon Gold Rush that opened Alaska, bringing with it fabulous wealth for a few, the violent lawlessness of the lower Wild West, and a breed of charlatan that fiction could not invent.  From a virtual mother lode of unmined material, Blum casts a narrative that both informs and entertains as he forges the image of the wild days of the last American frontier. William C. Davis, author of the Pulitzer-nominated Battle of Bull Run and also Three Roads to the Alamo and Lone Star Rising
  • Howard Blum has taken a whole handful of good yarns, and has woven them into a tapestry of  adventure, cattle drives, manhunts, bonanzas, greed, gunslinging, saloon brawls and heists, and of schemers and dreamers who became legends in their time. A novelist could hardly make up such characters, but these were real men. Blum has worked as hard as a sourdough prospector to mine their memoirs, letters and scrapbooks, to trace their interwoven biographies and write a vivid, amazingly plotted narrative that's like spun gold. James Alexander Thom, author of the national bestseller Follow the River and From Sea to Shining Sea
     
  • “Full of suspense…an amazing real-life adventure story, peopled with characters that any novelist would be proud to have invented: first-rate entertainment.”

    Michael Korda, New York Times bestselling author of HeroWith Wings Like Eagles, and Ike

  • Hold on to your seats! Howard Blum has thrown us a thunderbolt of a tale about three adventurers scrambling to experience the untamed life on the American frontier before it vanishes. The Floor of Heaven is a full-gallop epic of fortune-seeking and betrayal that leaves you pondering the high price we pay for both domesticity and freedom. Scott Zesch, author of The Captured
     
  • The Floor of Heaven will make a great movie--that goes without saying, since it's by master storyteller Howard Blum. But it's more than that: the best kind of reading experience, where the reader is transported to another time and place and is soon caught up in a glorious adventure.  It's the spellbinding tale of three fascinating characters--a lawman, a con man, and a prospector--set against the background of one of the most alluring eras in American history, the Yukon Gold Rush. This is a great, untold story of daring men involved in a dangerous and exciting enterprise: the taming of a lawless land. Jim Donovan, author of Custer and the Little Bighorn
     

  • “Brings to life the frenzy of the Yukon Gold Rush that opened Alaska, bringing with it fabulous wealth for a few, the violent lawlessness of the lower Wild West, and a breed of charlatan that fiction could not invent. From a virtual mother lode of unmined material, Blum casts a narrative that both informs and entertains as he forges the image of the wild days of the last American frontier.”

    William C. Davis, author of the Pulitzer Prize-nominated Battle of Bull Run

  • “Wonderfully original…Blum laces together a grand string of adventures (all the more impressive for being true) that take us deep into the glory hole and the transforming power of greed.”

    Pope Brock, New York Times bestselling author of Charlatan

  • “Howard Blum has taken a whole handful of good yarns and has woven them into a tapestry of adventure, cattle drives, manhunts, bonanzas, greed, gunslinging, saloon brawls and heists, and of schemers and dreamers who became legends in their time. A novelist could hardly make up such characters, but these were real men. Blum has worked as hard as a sourdough prospector to mine their memoirs, letters and scrapbooks, to trace their interwoven biographies and write a vivid, amazingly plotted narrative that's like spun gold.”

    James Alexander Thom, author of the national bestseller Follow the River

  • “Dramatic and colorful with touches of humor and poignancy, The Floor of Heaven has the spark of a television miniseries and the depth of a novel. That Blum’s tale of adventure is tall but true makes it all the more enjoyable, particularly because its heartbeat is so keenly American.”

    Associated Press

  • “Highly enjoyable…a narrative history set before, during and just after the [Yukon gold] rush. Blum traces the lives of three storied men—a prospector, a cowboy turned Pinkerton detective and a notorious conman—whose fates intersected over a stash of gold…It must have been a daunting task wrangling all these conflicting stories into a single, seamless tale, but you never feel that effort on a single page of this unabashedly entertaining book.”

    Salon

  • True Grit meets Call of the Wild. That’s the skinny on Howard Blum’s Floor of Heaven, a big sprawling book that pairs colorful cowboys and ornery thieves with noble Indians and the kinds of hardworking prospectors found in Jack London’s tales of the Yukon…Blum’s characters have undeniable folksy charm and ‘grit.’

    San Francisco Chronicle

  • “There is no doubt that all three of Mr. Blum’s main subjects led fascinating lives…Mr. Blum skillfully intercuts [his story’s] plotlines, building momentum toward his big finish…entertaining.”

    Wall Street Journal

  • “Packed with larger-than-life characters straight out of a John Ford western…a rich tale…entertaining.”

    American Heritage

  • “In the tradition of great history as great literature…highly recommended…readers will be richly rewarded by Blum’s masterful use of a colorful cast of genuine historical characters set in the majestic northwestern wilderness.”

    Library Journal (starred review)

  • “Wildly compelling a truly memorable frontier tale.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “A fascinating story…Detailing crimes perpetrated and solved, relationships both happy and tragic, hardships unthinkable in the modern age, and the cold, magical allure of Alaska and the Yukon, Blum captures the spirit and mood of the last of the Old West. The final pages, especially, are filled with drama and a strange yearning…a huge success.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “A tense, exciting tale filled with colorful characters.”

    Booklist

  • The Floor of Heaven is a full-gallop epic of fortune-seeking and betrayal that leaves you pondering the high price we pay for both domesticity and freedom.”

    Scott Zesch, author of The Captured

  • “The best kind of reading experience, where the reader is transported to another time and place and is soon caught up in a glorious adventure…A great, untold story of daring men involved in a dangerous and exciting enterprise: the taming of a lawless land.”

    Jim Donovan, author of Custer and the Little Bighorn

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mary Drayer | 2/17/2014

    " The story follows three men who are on a compelling true-life mystery. The story is based in an unforgetable time in America's history when thousands were fired up with a vision of making it big-the "gold rush". A GREAT read for all. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Joe | 2/12/2014

    " This was a fascinating story that was very entertaining and enjoyable to read. The author did a great job of intertwining the stories of the three men and ensuring that the right amount of suspense and interest was included. It was hard to believe at times that these were true stories. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jean | 2/11/2014

    " This was a good, interesting read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Frank | 1/28/2014

    " Great book, reads like a novel but you get a history lesson on the gold rush, and the pinker tons. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Shannon Burrows | 1/28/2014

    " Great when non-fiction reads like the best fiction! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tami | 1/11/2014

    " February - I liked this book. It was, no doubt, interesting to me because I was just in Alaska last year and could 'see' in my mind's eye many of the places described by the author. I felt the author was a bit heavy-handed with facts and figures and the book would not have suffered to have been a bit shorter with a little less back story here and there. It seems to be a common problem for some authors to believe that they need to weave into their books every last detail uncovered in their research. I think I could get by on just the high points and pass on the minutia. Still, if you're interested in Alaska or have ever visited, you would probably enjoy this book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Alan | 12/31/2013

    " Excellent, readable narrative history with some fascinating historical characters! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Carolyn | 12/21/2013

    " Non fiction that reads like a novel. If you have any interest in Alaska, the Klondike gold rush, the cowboys of the old west, con men and Pinkerton detectives, you will enjoy this book. Hard to put it down once I got started. A candidate to be a great movie. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ken Harwood | 12/4/2013

    " A true narrative of three fascinating men whose lives intersected in the rush for gold in the Klondike. Author Blum keeps the pace moving right along as we get a quite colorful peek into life in America's last frontier. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Joanne | 10/21/2013

    " Best story telling ever and it's all true!! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Baqash | 4/6/2013

    " Not quite a four but too good to be a three. Kept me reading. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Gretchenb54 | 8/3/2012

    " Good historical fiction of the Alaskan goldrush and post Civil War history. Both the political and personal triumphs and failures. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Fred M | 2/26/2012

    " Surprisingly, a real page turner. Highly recommend. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Beth | 2/19/2012

    " 3.5 stars. I only have a passing interest in this topic, but the three intertwining stories reeled me in. This is good solid narrative nonfiction, recommended for fans of Erik Larson. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Robert | 5/17/2011

    " An interesting and factual historical story of a facet of the Yukon gold rush.
    Reads like a novel in some spots. In others too much detail and a bit dry.
    Good read, if somewhat tedious.
    Blum is a good writer. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Bob | 4/15/2011

    " We are told an excellent story about the Yukon Gold Rush as witnessed by three very different men. One man is a prospector, one is a criminal, and the last is a visiting Pinkerton detective doing his job. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jean | 3/9/2011

    " This was a good, interesting read. "

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About the Author
Author Howard BlumHoward Blum is the author of eight previous books, including the national bestsellers Wanted!, The Gold of Exodus, and Gangland. Currently a contributing editor at Vanity Fair, Blum was also a reporter at the New York Times, where he won numerous journalism awards and was twice nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for his investigative reporting.
About the Narrator

John H. Mayer is a writer, actor, and audiobook narrator. In 1973, he cowrote Radio Rocket Boy, an award-winning short film. He also has narrated dozens of audiobooks, including American Lion and The Wolf Tree, among many others.