The Gold Crusades: A Social History of Gold Rushes, 1849-1929

By Douglas Fetherling

© 1997

Among the hordes of starry-eyed 'argonauts' who flocked to the California gold rush of 1849 was an Australian named Edward Hargraves. He left America empty-handed, only to find gold in his own backyard. The result was the great Australian rush of the 1850s, which also attracted participants from around the world. A South African named P.J. Marais was one of them. Marais too returned home in defeat – only to set in motion the diamond and gold rushes that transformed southern Africa. And so it went.

Most previous historians of the gold rushes have tended to view them as acts of spontaneous nationalism. Each country likes to see its own gold rush as the one that either shaped those that followed or epitomized all the rest. In The Gold Crusades: A Social History of Gold Rushes, 1849-1929, Douglas Fetherling takes a different approach.

Fetherling argues that the gold rushes in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa shared the same causes and results, the same characters and characteristics. He posits that they were in fact a single discontinuous event, an expression of the British imperial experience and nineteenth-century liberalism. He does so with dash and style and with a sharp eye for the telling anecdote, the out-of-the-way document, and the bold connection between seemingly unrelated disciplines.

Originally published by Macmillan of Canada, 1988.

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Product Details

  • Series: Heritage
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 230 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.7in x 9.0in
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SKU# SP001843

  • PUBLISHED DEC 1997
    From: $41.95
    ISBN 9780802080462
  • PUBLISHED DEC 1997
    From: $39.95

Quick Overview

Fetherling argues that the gold rushes in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa shared the same causes and results, the same characters and characteristics.

The Gold Crusades: A Social History of Gold Rushes, 1849-1929

By Douglas Fetherling

© 1997

Among the hordes of starry-eyed 'argonauts' who flocked to the California gold rush of 1849 was an Australian named Edward Hargraves. He left America empty-handed, only to find gold in his own backyard. The result was the great Australian rush of the 1850s, which also attracted participants from around the world. A South African named P.J. Marais was one of them. Marais too returned home in defeat – only to set in motion the diamond and gold rushes that transformed southern Africa. And so it went.

Most previous historians of the gold rushes have tended to view them as acts of spontaneous nationalism. Each country likes to see its own gold rush as the one that either shaped those that followed or epitomized all the rest. In The Gold Crusades: A Social History of Gold Rushes, 1849-1929, Douglas Fetherling takes a different approach.

Fetherling argues that the gold rushes in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa shared the same causes and results, the same characters and characteristics. He posits that they were in fact a single discontinuous event, an expression of the British imperial experience and nineteenth-century liberalism. He does so with dash and style and with a sharp eye for the telling anecdote, the out-of-the-way document, and the bold connection between seemingly unrelated disciplines.

Originally published by Macmillan of Canada, 1988.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • Series: Heritage
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 230 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.7in x 9.0in
  • Reviews

    'The gold rushes were among the most dynamic episodes in modern history, when people from many nations and every level of society converged, turning wilderness into colonies, crossroads into boom towns and boom towns into cities. The Gold Crusades conveys that excitement, while offering a broader perspective. Readers will find it meticulously researched, with a helpful and entertaining essays on sources appended for further reading. Anyone prospecting for a good book should find it a gem.'


    Eric Marks
    New Brunswick Telegraph Journal
  • Author Information

    Douglas Fetherling, D.Litt., is a poet, fiction writer, critic, and small-press publisher. He is the author or editor of 50 books, mostly in the fields of literature and culture. He has been the literary editor of two newspapers, the Toronto Star and the Kingston Whig-Standard, and writer-in-residence at Queen's University. He divides his time between Ontario and British Columbia and writes a column on books and ideas for the Ottawa Citizen.

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