The most recommended books about gold mining

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9 authors created a book list connected to gold mining, and here are their favorite gold mining books.
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Book cover of Gold at Fortymile Creek: Early Days in the Yukon

Frances Backhouse Author Of Women of the Klondike

From my list on the Klondike Gold Rush.

Why am I passionate about this?

My interest in the Klondike gold rush was sparked by a Canadian history course I took as an undergrad. Nearly all the accounts I read then relegated female participants to the sidelines and implied that most were of dubious moral character, but I suspected there was more to the story than that. I started digging and, unlike many Klondikers, I struck gold. Since then I’ve made numerous visits to the Yukon and Alaska, hiked the Chilkoot Trail twice and spent three months as Writer in Residence at Berton House in Dawson City (where I worked on my third gold rush book, Children of the Klondike). Today, I’m still captivated by this colorful, character-rich historic event.

Frances' book list on the Klondike Gold Rush

Frances Backhouse Why did Frances love this book?

This impeccably researched book by Yukon historian Michael Gates provides the backstory to the 1896 discovery that kicked off the Klondike gold rush. Small numbers of gold-seekers began prowling the creeks of Alaska and the Yukon as early as 1873 and their stories are every bit as fascinating as the stories of those who followed. These men, and the occasional woman, were a particularly hardy lot who put themselves through incredible hardship in hopes of finding a fortune. They were perfectly positioned to beat the rush to the Klondike goldfields and some of them did clean up. But regardless of whether they struck it rich, all of these risk-takers and dreamers helped set the stage for the big event.

By Michael Gates,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Gold at Fortymile Creek as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The book, based on the accounts of dozens of prospectors, follows the first gold-seekers from their arrival in 1873 until the stampede to the Klondike in 1896. Gates captures the essence of these early years of the gold rush, about which very little has been written. He chronicles the trials, hearbreaks, and successes of the unique and hardy individualists who searched for gold in the wilderness. With names like Swiftwater Bill, Crooked Leg Louie, Slobbery Tom, and Tin Kettle George, these men lived in total isolation beyond the borders of civilization. They were often eccentrics and outcasts, who shaped their…

Book cover of In Search of King Solomon's Mines: A Modern Adventurer's Quest for Gold and History in the Land of the Queen of Sheba

Andrew Cairns Author Of The Witch's List

From my list on set in Africa that move, uplift, and inspire.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a Scottish writer who enjoys travelling and meeting people of different cultures and beliefs. I have always been a fan of adventure stories, particularly those with a strange or supernatural bent. My travels to The Ivory Coast and North Africa, hearing accounts of various witch stories, and encountering strange events and practices firsthand inspired me to write The Witch’s List Trilogy: the first two books published and the third in progress. 

Andrew's book list on set in Africa that move, uplift, and inspire

Andrew Cairns Why did Andrew love this book?

If you haven’t discovered Tahir Shah’s work yet, then this is a great place to start. It is about a quest the writer sets himself to discover the lost Solomon’s Mines in Ethiopia after purchasing an old map in a bazaar in Jerusalem. Shah goes off the beaten track venturing to a cliff-face monastery where the monks pull visitors up on a leather rope, to the ruined castles of Gondar, and to the rock-hewn churches at Lalibela. Most striking of all are his descriptions of an illegal gold mine that he visits where the miners dig with their bare hands. The people he meets, the strange circumstances he finds himself in, and the interesting historical and geographical background he provides all contribute to a rich and compelling account.  

By Tahir Shah,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked In Search of King Solomon's Mines as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

King Solomon, the Bible’s wisest king, possessed extraordinary wealth. The grand temple he built in Jerusalem was covered in gold from the porch to the inner sanctum, where the Ark of the Covenant was kept. Long before H. Rider Haggard’s classic adventure novel King Solomon’s Mines unleashed gold fever more than a century ago, many had sought to find the source of the great king’s wealth. In this new adventure—“a hybrid of Indiana Jones and Herodotus” (Sunday Times, London)—Tahir Shah tries his hand at the quest. 
Intrigued by a map he finds in a shop not far from the site…

Book cover of Over the Moon

Fiadhnait Moser Author Of The Serendipity of Flightless Things

From my list on with an air of whimsy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a middle-grade author and hold a Master of Fine Arts in Writing for Children and Young Adults. As an artist of multiple disciplines, I have always been fascinated by the tiny details in the world around me and the ways I can connect those details to how I understand myself, my experiences, and the human experience. Some may find such interests odd, eccentric, “whimsical,” perhaps, but I believe these fascinations inspire the most unique stories—stories that can only be told by the artist who is noticing, connecting, reflecting, creating. When I’m not writing, I enjoy teaching art and dance to elementary students.

Fiadhnait's book list on with an air of whimsy

Fiadhnait Moser Why did Fiadhnait love this book?

Over the Moon is a book that is lush with description and fantastical ideas. While reading, I could see, smell, taste, and hear every tiny detail of Lloyd’s beautifully drawn world through her poetic language as if I were standing right inside it. What is even more impressive is that through all her worldbuilding, at no point does Lloyd’s character or thematic development become lost. This book is a story of hope and of bravery with a character whose resilience and determination shine like the moon.

By Natalie Lloyd,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Over the Moon as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

"Strong themes of friendship and loyalty drive Lloyd's story, which soars under Mallie's heroic lead [whose] physical disability never holds her back. Rather, she bravely proves that questions have power and one's story can be reshaped." -Booklist, starred review

Twelve-year-old Mallie knows better than to dream. In Coal Top, you live the story you're given: boys toil in the mines and girls work as servants. Mallie can't bear the idea of that kind of life, but her family is counting on her wages to survive.It wasn't always this way. Before the Dust came, the people of Coal Top could weave…

Book cover of Abandoned America: Dismantling the Dream

Tom Carter Author Of China: Portrait of a People

From my list on travel photography.

Why am I passionate about this?

Peeking over the American fence, I found myself in China in 2004 as the nation was transitioning from its quaint 1980s/90s self into the futuristic “China 2.0” we know it today. My occupation, like many expats, was small-town English teacher. I later departed for a two-year backpacking sojourn across the country. I took a bunch of snapshots along the way with a little point-and-shoot camera. 800 of those images became my first book. Photography – be it travel, documentary, street or reportage – is my passion. The following are but five of five hundred books I’d love to recommend.

Tom's book list on travel photography

Tom Carter Why did Tom love this book?

We often think of travel photography as limited to exotic overseas locales, but Matthew Christopher set out to show that the United States has fallen into just as much decay and deterioration as any third-world nation. Part of his Abandoned America book series, Dismantling the Dream follows up on his debut, The Age of Consequence, with evocative scenery of properties and venues – malls, factories, schools, farms, homes – forsaken by their original inhabitants. Anyone who has not deluded themselves into disbelieving that the U.S. is in a permanent state of demise will appreciate these apocalyptic yet nonetheless lovely photographs.

By Matthew Christopher,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Abandoned America as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

If the creation of a structure represents the values and ideals of a time, so too does its subsequent abandonment and eventual destruction. In Abandoned America: Dismantling the Dream, internationally acclaimed photographer Matthew Christopher continues his tour of the quiet catastrophes dotting American cities, examining the losses and failures that led these ruins to become forsaken by communities that once embraced them. From the heartbreaking story of a state school that would become home to one of the country's worst cases of fatal neglect and abuse to the shattered remains of what was once the largest mall in the United…

Book cover of All That Glitters: Class, Conflict, and Community in Cripple Creek

Mary Ellen Johnson Author Of The Lion and the Leopard

From Mary's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Autodidact Medieval Anglophile Idealist Reader Blue collar

Mary's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Mary Ellen Johnson Why did Mary love this book?

Having been raised in a union family, I’ve always been fascinated by labor history.

Since some of the deadliest strikes took place here in Colorado—and some forty minutes from my home—I decided to write about the 1902-04 labor wars. But where to begin? Who mined the gold? What was daily life like for the miners? The mine owners? Were politicians as venal then as they are today? 

All That Glitters is my go-to bible for all things turn-of-the-century Cripple Creek. In novel-like prose, the author vividly captures a time that, while only a century past, is quite different from our own. The heartbreaking end to the labor wars reminds us that, while the arc of the moral universe IS long, it doesn’t always bend toward justice.

By Elizabeth Jameson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked All That Glitters as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

At the turn of the century, Colorado's Cripple Creek District captured the national imagination with the extraordinary wealth of its gold mines and the unquestionable strength of the militant Western Federation of Miners.

Elizabeth Jameson tells the entertaining story of Cripple Creek, the scene in 1894 of one of radical labor's most stunning victories and, in 1903 and 1904, of one of its most crushing defeats. Jameson draws on working-class oral histories, the Victor and Cripple Creek Daily Press published by 34 of the local labor unions, and the 1900 manuscript census. She connects unions with lodges and fraternal associations,…

Book cover of The Mountains That Remade America: How Sierra Nevada Geology Impacts Modern Life

Allen F. Glazner Author Of Geology Underfoot in Yosemite National Park

From my list on wandering through California’s geology.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a boy in southern California, I knew that the mountains were to the north, that they were big, and that they were somehow related to earthquakes. I loved chemistry and the outdoors and decided on the first day of college that geology offered a great way to be an outdoor chemist. I learned the craft of writing in high school as a sports reporter for the local paper. After I started as a geology professor at the University of North Carolina in 1981, Bob Sharp of Caltech and I founded the Geology Underfoot series to get people into the outdoors to discover geology on their own.  

Allen's book list on wandering through California’s geology

Allen F. Glazner Why did Allen love this book?

Jones gives a modern account of the roles that the Sierra Nevada range has played in the history of California: barrier to transportation, source of gold, source of water, desert maker, provider of unique ecosystems, inspiration of water law and mining law, target of vacationers, hikers, and climbers, and inspirer of the national park system. This engaging book weaves the history of exploration and development of the state into the larger story of why the range exists, what it is made of, and why it is so odd that the Sierra Nevada, unlike most tall mountain ranges, lacks a low-density root to hold it up. Jones excels at explaining things that I never even thought to wonder about.

By Craig H. Jones,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Mountains That Remade America as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From ski towns to national parks, fresh fruit to environmental lawsuits, the Sierra Nevada has changed the way Americans live. Whether and where there was gold to be mined redefined land, mineral, and water laws. Where rain falls (and where it doesn't) determines whose fruit grows on trees and whose appears on slot machines. All this emerges from the geology of the range and how it changed history, and in so doing, changed the country.

The Mountains That Remade America combines geology with history to show how the particular forces and conditions that created the Sierra Nevada have effected broad…

Book cover of Glorious

Baron Birtcher Author Of South California Purples

From my list on discovering a great new thriller series.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been a traditionally published author of thrillers and mysteries for nearly 20 years. I grew up in rural southern California (yes, it was rural then) surrounded by open spaces, riding horseback through the rolling cattle pastures of San Juan Capistrano. My recollections of those experiences, and the culture shift that inevitably arises out of every generation is a deep and fascinating well from which to draw stories and the characters who flesh them out. My thrillers have won a number of literary awards, and have been bestsellers—for which I am profoundly grateful. I hope you’ll join to relive the ethos, the passion, and the challenges faced when the Old West meets the New.

Baron's book list on discovering a great new thriller series

Baron Birtcher Why did Baron love this book?

Author Jeff Quinn uses his formidable talents as an award-winning journalist to bear on this sweeping saga of the American West.

His eye for historical detail, and his ear for dialogue, are never employed to display his deep wealth of knowledge, but rather for the most noble of purposes: to add dimension to the story and the characters. 

Glorious is the first (of three) installment(s) in the story of Cash McClendon, an everyman of sorts, eking out a living in St. Louis. When an unexpected tragedy strikes, McClendon has little choice but to go on the run, seeking refuge and a new life in tiny frontier town Glorious, Arizona. 

The series brings together the best elements of historical fiction, and mixes real-life figures with those created by the author, but done in the most organic and believable of ways. If you're seeking an epic story of the West, replete with…

By Jeff Guinn,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Glorious as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The New York Times bestselling author of The Last Gunfight turns his eye for evocative detail to a sweeping novel of the American West that “will delight historical fiction fans longing for the return of classic Westerns” (Library Journal).

Cash McLendon has always had an instinct for self-preservation, honed by an impoverished childhood with an alcoholic father on the streets of St. Louis. He eventually builds himself up to become the son-in-law and heir apparent to industrial mogul Rupert Douglass. But when tragedy strikes and his life falls apart, his instinct for survival kicks in and he flees St. Louis…

Book cover of When the Lion Feeds

Michael J. Murphy Author Of Beneath the Willow

From my list on fiction to immerse yourself in a historical narrative.

Why am I passionate about this?

My passion for historical fiction writing stems from a lifelong interest in history and a love for creating stories that have rich characters, with deep and meaningful personalities. My interest in history led me to study the subject at university, which has worked hand-in-hand with the pleasure I get from writing. Researching stories is another aspect that I enjoy, and it has seen me travel to destinations all over the world, where I have made some wonderful friendships.

Michael's book list on fiction to immerse yourself in a historical narrative

Michael J. Murphy Why did Michael love this book?

I have included When The Lion Feeds because it is the first “grown up” book that I read as a young person.

It was many years ago, but Wilbur Smith’s novel had a big impact on me with his descriptive writing drawing me into the South African setting. The characters in Smith’s novel make for a strong and powerful narrative, and his imagery is captivating.

In many ways, When The Lions Feed is what could be described as a page-turner. I had mentioned in another review that an indicator of a good story is when the reader feels that they know the character(s), and it is certainly the case with this book.