Roaring Camp: The Social World of the California Gold Rush

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W. W. Norton & Company, 2000 - History - 464 pages
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Historical insight is the alchemy that transforms the familiar story of the Gold Rush into something sparkling and new. The world of the Gold Rush that comes down to us through fiction and film—of unshaven men named Stumpy and Kentuck raising hell and panning for gold—is one of half-truths. In this brilliant work of social history, Susan Johnson enters the well-worked diggings of Gold Rush history and strikes a rich lode. She finds a dynamic social world in which the conventions of identity—ethnic, national, and sexual—were reshaped in surprising ways. She gives us the all-male households of the diggings, the mines where the men worked, and the fandango houses where they played. With a keen eye for character and story, Johnson restores the particular social world that issued in the Gold Rush myths we still cherish.

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ROARING CAMP: The Social World of the California Gold Rush

User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

A dutiful, ponderous reconstruction of daily life in the California gold fields. Johnson (History/Univ. of Colorado) argues that the commonly held view of the gold rush leaves out many of its ... Read full review

Review: Roaring Camp: The Social World of the California Gold Rush

User Review  - Dan Darragh - Goodreads

Too "scholarly" for me, although I finally plowed through it. It is interesting that some of the social issue pertaining to race and ethnicity are pretty much unchanged over the last 175 years. Read full review

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Page 399 - David R. Roediger, The Wages of Whiteness: Race and the Making of the American Working Class (London: Verso, 1991); Noel Ignatiev, How the Irish Became White...

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About the author (2000)

Susan Lee Johnson is professor of history at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

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