Another Gold Rush & Looming Civil War.,
This review is from: Colorado (Paperback)
Dana Fuller Ross' panoramic saga of America's great expansion into the western territories is some of the most intelligent, well written historic fiction I have read. "Colorado" is Book 7 in a series of 24 novels which truly bring history to life during one of the United States' most important and fascinating periods.
In 1858, some eight years after the beginning of the California Gold Rush, gold was discovered in the Colorado country. Once again, it was boom or bust as hoards of gold-hungry men swarmed to Colorado, bringing with them many of the same problems that had plagued California before it became a US territory. The North and South were drifting further apart, endangering the Union. The issues went far beyond free vs. slave states. The increasingly industrialized North and the predominantly agricultural South had been developing opposing views on almost every aspect of what constituted US society.
General Leland Blake, a veteran of the first wagon train to blaze the Oregon Trail, was called to Washington by President Buchanan. The gold, discovered by southerners from Georgia, was found in the wilderness of Colorado, a place claimed by no state or territory. Geological reports favored finding considerable gold within the next year. The President wanted to secure Colorado country for the Union. He also needed to know approximately how much gold was available. If Civil War broke out, the gold would be of great value to finance the conflict and help to secure a Union victory. Buchanan sends Blake to Colorado with a geologist, both men's wives, and a lawyer. Since the southerners are not to know of the presidential mission, it is to be kept absolutely secret. Blake is to pose as a retired General. His group is supposed to be on a financial expedition to assess Colorado's mineral wealth for future investment.
Many of the characters from the first six books appear in "Colorado" and new ones, both historical and fictitious, are introduced. The author gives these characters tremendous depth and illustrates how life in the new land, along with new responsibilities, changes them and effects their relationships. Chet Harris, another wagon train veteran, goes to Colorado along with his partner Wong Ke, to see if they can repeat the mining success they had in California, where they made their fortune. They join with newspaper publisher Wade Fulton, of the Colorado Tribune, to form a voluntary citizen's constabulary to provide law and order. Colorado promised to be as bad as California was, in terms of violence, crime and murder. Lovely Susanna Fulton, Wade's daughter and newspaper editor, solves the mystery of the "Grey Ghost bandit." Lt. Andrew Brandon, son of the Oregon Trail wagon train master Sam Brandon, and many others also have a part to play in "Colorado."
The history, characters, plot and subplots in this novel are some of the most exciting and dynamic so far. I love history, and while I have read and studied this period in America's development, I have learned so much from reading these seven "Wagons West" books. I plan to continue until I read them all. A wonderful reading experience.