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186 Western American Literature mission of tracking down the perpetrator of a murder that has been blamed on him. The ending turns upon whether wild freedom and civilization can be reconciled. The writing itself is typical of the pulp fiction of the 1920s. There is a liberal sprinkling of such words as “friable,” “aperture,” “covert,” “malig­ nant,” and the like. Some sentences could have appeared in any of a thou­ sand tales from Zane Grey to Luke Short, such as “Hank regarded the others with a concentrated malevolence” (p. 103). Some sentences are casually phrased — “Where one had broken the ice already, it was not hard for a second to follow suit” (p. 41) — and the book abounds with facile observa­ tions on human nature (“A pretty face performs strange feats of alchemy,” p. 155). In this reprinting there is also a scattering of typographical errors. Despite the book’s obvious flaws, it does have a strong element of wish-fulfillment in Tom’s ability to live harmoniously with the natural world, to outwit baser men, and finally to reconsider whether mankind is incorrigibly evil. As is characteristic of Brand’s fiction, the setting is unspeci­ fied historically and geographically— sort of a never-never land of moun­ tains, rivers, and canyons, where Tom and his antagonists play out their elemental drama. With this simple but successful appeal, the book will find its rightful place alongside hundreds of other escapist Westerns in the public libraries of our country. And so Max Brand rides again. Frank Gruber has given us a memorable sketch of Frederick Faust in this period (1921-22) — coming to work with a quart thermos of whiskey, sitting on a sofa with his typewriter on a chair in front of him, and typing exactly fourteen pages per day. A reading of Wild Freedom makes this genial sketch believable; further, it is pleasing to imagine Faust, tongue somewhat in cheek, smiling on his way to the bank. JOHN D. NESBITT Eastern Wyoming College The World Rushed In: The California Gold Rush Experience. By J. S. Holliday. (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1981. 559 pages, $16.95.) It takes a bold writer to attempt a book such as this — on a subject, a story, a myth, a legend that has been so often told and filmed and written about. J. S. Holliday goes deep underneath the legend and comes up with a book that tells this world-famous story as if we are hearing it for the first time. His narrative, in itself, is a kind of gold mine. Like the streambed of the Feather River before the 49ers arrived, it sparkles with nuggets, flashes of truth about American character and American dreams. It is built around the diaries of one William Swain, a farmer in upstate New York who is captivated by the grandiose accounts that begin drifting east from California after James Marshall’s discovery at Sutter’s Mill. It is hard for him to believe what the papers are printing, about the fortunes Reviews 187 being made and gold for the taking. But when President Polk himself stands up in Congress, in December 1848, and confirms the improbable rumors, Swain decides to go. He is 28. He has a farm, an elderly mother, a young wife and a new­ born daughter. He leaves them all in the care of his older brother and sets out to cross the continent, promising to keep for them a record of his journey. His diary is wonderfully precise and filled with surprises. For one thing, Swain is not the hard-drinking, loud-talking, rough-and-tumble rene­ gade we think of as “the 49er.” He is a sober, thoughtful, God-fearing Yankee taking the biggest risk of his life. From the day he leaves Youngs­ town, New York, until he reaches the gold country seven months later, upper­ most in his mind is the welfare of his family and the obligation, both emo­ tional and financial, to justify this long separation and this sizable investment of time and money. Though it is said to be the most readable and consistent of the surviving Gold Rush diaries, Swain’s record alone would...


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