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William Sharon And The Gilded Age In The West
William Sharon was one of the most colorful scoundrels in the nineteenth-century mining West. He epitomized the robber barons of the nation’s Gilded Age and the political corruption and moral decay for which that period remains notorious; yet he was also a visionary capitalist who controlled more than a dozen of the greatest mines on Nevada’s mighty Comstock Lode, built the Virginia & Truckee Railroad, manipulated speculation and prices on the San Francisco Stock Exchange, and revived the collapsed Bank of California. One enemy called him “a thoroughly bad man—a man entirely void of principle,” while a Comstock neighbor called him “one of the best men that ever lived in Virginia City.” Both descriptions were reasonably accurate. In this first-ever biography of one of Nevada’s most reviled historical figures, author Michael Makley examines Sharon’s complex nature and the turbulent times in which he flourished. Arriving in San Francisco shortly after the Gold Rush began, Sharon was soon involved in real estate, politics, banking, and stock speculation, and he was a party in several of the era’s most shocking business and sexual scandals. When he moved to Virginia City, Nevada’s mushrooming silver boomtown, his business dealings there soon made him known as the “King of the Comstock"
The book is the first comprehensive documented study of Jews in Nevada from 1850 to the present. It details their involvement in the development and fostering of the state’s earliest settlements and its social and political institutions. Among the themes are: antisemitism, Jewish participation in civil rights initiatives, and the explosive growth of Jewry in the Las Vegas metropolitan area along with the development of an expanding Jewish cultural infrastructure. It includes victimized peddlers and modern millionaires, heroines and exploiters, underworld figures and philanthropists, as well as the religiously observant and secular.
A Son's Return to the Basque Country
In 1960, renowned Nevada writer Robert Laxalt moved himself and his family to a small Basque village in the French Pyrenees. The son of Basque emigrants, Laxalt wanted to learn as much as he could about the ancient and mysterious people from which he was descended and about the country from which his parents came. Thanks to his Basque surname and a wide network of family connections, Laxalt was able to penetrate the traditional reserve of the Basques in a way that outsiders rarely can. In the process, he gained rare insight into the nature of the Basques and the isolated, beautiful mountain world where they have lived for uncounted centuries. Based on Laxalt’s personal journals of this and a later sojourn in 1965, The Land of My Fathers is a moving record of a people and their homeland. Through Laxalt’s perceptive eyes, and his wife Joyce’s photographs, we observe the Basques’ market days and festivals, join their dove hunts and harvests, share their humor and history, their deep sense of nationalism, their abiding pride in their culture and their homes, and discover the profound sources of the Basques’ strength and their endurance as a people. Photography by Joyce Laxalt.