Sierra: A Novel of the California Gold Rush

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Forge, 1996 - Fiction - 380 pages
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Two unlikely adventurers are snared by the promise of wealth in the streams and foothills of the Sierra Nevada. Ulysses McQueen leaves his pregnant wife, Susannah, on their Iowa farm to follow the arduous trails to the gold country. He escapes his domineering father and the responsibilities of marriage, but becomes entrapped by other forces: the perils of the journey, the hopelessness of his quest, and the guilt and loneliness he feels for the girl he left behind. Meantime, the New York cooper's apprentice Stephen Jarvis is discharged from the army in Monterey. On his way north to find work at John A. Sutter's fort on the Sacramento River, he falls in love with Rita Concepcion Estrada. Her prominent family's hatred for the conquering Yanquis stands unyieldingly between her and her beloved Americano. Wheeler weaves a harrowing account of the horrors and untrammeled beauty of the overland trails to California. He re-creates meticulously life - and death - in the wildly isolated gold camps, in the raucous new city of San Francisco, and in the fever jungles of Panama, where those Forty-Niners taking the sea route to the goldfields must slash their way to the Pacific and to the ships that will take them to California.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - hardlyhardy - LibraryThing

True gold can be found in the love of a good woman. That, in a nutshell, summarizes "Sierra," Richard S. Wheeler's entertaining 1996 novel about the California gold rush, which follows the trail of ... Read full review

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User Review  - Kirkus

With varying results, two young men seek their fortunes in California after America's successful war against Mexico—in another solid historical from the prolific Wheeler (Cashbox, l994, etc.). When ... Read full review

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About the author (1996)

Richard S. (Shaw) Wheeler was born in Milwaukee in 1935 and grew up in nearby Wauwatosa. Wheeler spent three years in Hollywood in the mid-50s, where he worked in a record store and took acting lessons while struggling as a screenwriter. He eventually returned home, and attended the University of Wisconsin at Madison. He spent over a decade as a newspaperman, working as an editorial writer for the Phoenix Gazette, editorial page editor for the Oakland, California, Tribune, reporter on the Nevada Appeal in Carson City, and reporter and assistant city editor for the Billings, Montana, Gazette. In 1972, he turned to book editing, working in all for four publishers through 1987. As an editor for Walker & Company he edited twelve Western novels a year. Sandwiched between editing stints, in the mid-70s he worked at the Rancho de la Osa dude ranch in Sasabe, Arizona, on the Mexican border. There, in the off season, he experimented with his own fiction and wrote his first novel, Bushwack, published by Doubleday in 1978. Five more Western novels followed Bushwack before Wheeler was able to turn to writing full time: Beneath the Blue Mountain (1979), Winter Grass (1983), Sam Hook (1986), Richard Lamb (1987) and Dodging Red Cloud (1987).

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