The Klondike Fever: The Life and Death of the Last Great Gold Rush

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Basic Books, Dec 1, 2003 - History - 457 pages
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In 1897 a grimy steamer docked in Seattle and set into epic motion the incredible succession of events that Pierre Berton's exhilarating The Klondike Fever chronicles in all its splendid and astonishing folly. For the steamer Portland bore two tons of pure Klondike gold. And immediately, the stampede north to Alaska began. Easily as many as 100,000 adventurers, dreamers, and would-be miners from all over the world struck out for the remote, isolated gold fields in the Klondike Valley, most of them in total ignorance of the long, harsh Alaskan winters and the territory's indomitable terrain. Less than a third of that number would complete the enormously arduous mountain journey to their destination. Some would strike gold. Berton's story belongs less to the few who would make their fortunes than to the many swept up in the gold mania, to often unfortunate effects and tragic ends. It is a story of cold skies and avalanches, of con men and gamblers and dance hall girls, of sunken ships, of suicides, of dead horses and desperate men, of grizzly old miners and millionaires, of the land -- its exploitation and revenge. It is a story of the human capacity to dream, and to endure.

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The Klondike fever: the life and death of the last great gold rush

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Berton's 1958 title chronicles the madness of the 19th-century's Klondike gold rush. Roughly 100,000 hopefuls set off in search of riches, but fewer than a third reached their destination, with a tiny fraction of those actually finding the wealth they sought. ... Read full review

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About the author (2003)

Pierre Berton was born in 1920 and raised in the Yukon. He worked in Klondike mining camps during his university years, spending four years in the army, rising from private to captain/instructor at the Royal Military College in Kingston. After the military, Berton went to Vancouver where he began his career at a newspaper. At 21, he was the youngest city editor on any Canadian daily. He moved to Toronto in 1947, and at the age of 31 was named managing editor of Maclean's. In 1957 he became a key member of the CBC's public affairs flagship program, Close-Up, and a permanent panelist on Front Page Challenge. He joined The Toronto Star as an associate editor and columnist in 1958, leaving 4 years later in '62 to commence The Pierre Berton Show, which ran until 1973. Since then he has appeared as host and writer on My Country, The Great Debate, Heritage Theatre, and The Secret of My Success. He has received numerous honourary degrees and served as the Chancellor of Yukon College. Berton is also a Companion of the Order of Canada, and has received a Stephen Leacock Medal for Humor in 1959, a Govenor's General Award for The Mysterious North in 1956, Klondike in 1958 and The Last Spike in 1972. Berton has also won a Nellie Award for best public broadcaster in radio in 1978, the Canadian Authors Association Literary Award for non fiction in, 1981 and the Canadian Booksellers Award in 1982.

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