I left my heart in San Francisco …..

During my recent touristy wanderings, I found its hard to imagine that in 1847 San Francisco only had a population of 1,000.  But the Californian Gold Rush increased that to 25,000 within the year and the place hasn’t looked back since.    Not so, John Augustus Sutter, a Swiss emigrant who was busy building New Helvetia (a new Switzerland) in the vicinity, well on his way to becoming the world’s richest man.  The discovery of gold on his land ruined his life, proving yet again that fact is stranger than fiction.

Gold fictionalises the adventurous life, the rise and fall, of John Augustus Sutter and, thereby, the years immediately prior to and after California’s secession to the USA.  Cendrars ideally suited to writing an account of Sutter’s wandering and restless life leading a somewhat nomadic existence of his own.  An enjoyable informative tale, very sad at the end, Cendrars using his poetic licence to the full towards the end, piling on the tragedy with thick brushstrokes.  Well worth the couple of hours it took to read.  Amazingly it took the author over a decade to write it.

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