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World Rushed In

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Book Overview

When The World Rushed In was first published in 1981, the Washington Post predicted, "It seems unlikely that anyone will write a more comprehensive book about the Gold Rush." Twenty years later, no... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

The Human Side of the Gold Rush

"The World Rushed In" is a gold rush history must read. Holliday's approach to telling the 49ers tale was a seamless stitching together of William Swain's journal and letters home with other facts and general information surrounding the rush. It is a personal approach. It is an accurate approach to what being a 49er meant to those who chased the elephant. Holliday's interpretations and prose keep the story flowing, but do not add extraneous information. Nor does Holliday attempt to explain feelings or jump to conclusions. The ease with which this book flows and the personal feelings expressed by William and Sabrina Swain make this book hard to put down. The reader feels the fear of cholera and the aches at the end of the day. This book describes the rush mentality of the 49ers extremely well. These young, eager, adventurers truly believed they would easily find their fortunes and soon be back home. Swain himself, who was apparently better read and prepared for the trip than many, believed he would be home much sooner than he was. Unlike many others, his decision to return home from California was easier. He had a farm, a family and a life to return to that did not require any wealth. Many of the rushers had nothing to return east to. As a native upstate New York farmer who has traveled along most of the major westward trails, albeit via car or railroad, I completely understood Swain's descriptions of praise or denigration of the land he passed through. I empathized with his homesickness. There was irony in the travails Swain survived and many of my own one hundred and fifty years later. We both went west to find our fortunes. We both adapted. He was able to return home in twenty- two months. Seven years later, I am still hoping. My favorite paragraph in the book is a journal entry describing the Black Rock Desert in Northern Nevada. The paragraph ends with "where the hell is California?" I have crisscrossed Nevada in every direction. It is desolate, harsh and will lead even the most proper person to exclaim, "Where the hell is anything!" I can't imagine crossing this state walking beside an ox team. Holliday artfully tells the big story of the emigration in conjunction with Swain's individual view. Swain had no idea how many people were ahead of or behind him. Swain mentions problems in other companies, but had no idea the extent of discontent among some of the trains. Holliday draws from other sources to compare Swain's adventures with the experiences of others. This approach gives a broader spectrum of the emigration. Swain's crossing was relatively uneventful and trouble free. He was taken ill a few times, but did not die from cholera as so many did. He was fortunate in selecting trustworthy traveling companions. He found decent passage home. Swain made it home. "The World Rushed In" is a must read for anyone interested in the human side of the gold rush. Other works contain all the facts, figures and dates one could want. This book

I almost felt like I was there!

My wife and I recently visited California for the first time. In a U.S. Forest Service bookstore, I saw this book. Since we planned to return to California and tour the Gold Rush areas, I bought the book. I made a good choice! The use of William Swain's actual diary and letters made me feel almost like I was there, the descriptions were so detailed and vivid. It was an incredible journey that tens of thousands of men, women, and children made across the west. Many of these people thought that they could simply pick up gold nuggets for a few days and be rich. In fact, gold mining was brutally hard work, and few of the 49ers ever got rich. The author does a fantastic job of describing the California Gold Rush in human terms. If you only read one book about the California Gold Rush, "The World Rushed In" would be a great choice.

Swain's personal account feels like a novel

Thank heavens for people like William Swain who took the time to record their personal stories and let it become, in a sense, a first-person history tale to people in the 21st century. Swain goes into great detail about his trials and tribulations and you begin to care so much about him, it almost becomes a novel. It accidentally sets the reader up for disappointment in the end by Swain reaching home and the story suddenly stopping. You'll find yourself asking, how did Eliza greet her papa? What did Swain do with the meager amount of money he made? What was Sabrina and her husband's first words to each other after an almost two-year absence? Of course, it's not Swain's fault for ending his diary at home. He merely kept the journal to update his family on his journey; not give readers 150 years later an autobiography. Holliday can not answer these final questions either and rightfully so, he does not try. You are left to ponder how it ended and hopefully, after reading so many emotional passages from William and Sabrina, you can use your imagination to answer the homecoming questions.Holliday blends the information together wonderfully by arranging each chapter into three sections:1. an overall historical account2. Swain's diary3. A Back Home section in which letters written to Swain from wife Sabrina and brother George are included.The format works splendidly for the reader and keeps everything in a proper time frame. Holliday also includes scaled-down regional maps for every chapter which lets the reader follow along on a microcosm/macrocosm scope of the total journey. Holliday has also laboriously researched hundreds of other personal diaries and includes passages from them when Swain leaves gaps or when a quirky story can be added to intrigue the reader further. The World Rushed In is a fast read and I recommend it to anyone who is interested in Western US history or is just looking for a great story.

The best Gold Rush diary

This is a superb, gripping and very personal account of one man's experience travelling to and from the California gold rush. The fact that Holliday had access to virtually all the letters sent from him and to him on the trail makes this book even more enticing. It made me feel that I was taking every step with William Swain on his journey, sharing in his joys and sorrows and those of his brother and wife back home. I thoroughly recommend this book, I couldn't put it down.

The Real Gold Rush story

This book is a must read for anyone who tires of the typical picture of the gold rush miner as a bearded old geezer with a floppy hat talking to his mule. This book tells the story of one man and his family through his letters back home and the letters sent to him while on his travels. It is not the story of a man who came back rich with fun stories to tell. It is the real story of a man who risked much, wrote about it extensively, and returned with little to show for it. GREAT BOOK!
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