Review by Choice Review
Meldahl (Mira Costa College) does an excellent job describing the trials that cross-country travelers had to endure to approach their dream of wealth and a new life in the West during the California gold rush. The author, a geologist by profession, chronicles the movement across the trails through diaries. Yet, the work adds the dimension of geology. He does a truly outstanding job explaining the underlying limitations placed on movement across the land by the rocks and geologic processes that formed those rocks. The reality of the hardship comes alive with Meldahl's descriptions. The work is enhanced by his explanations of the underlying geology as well as the science behind the present understanding of the rocks--even including contending theories. The inclusion of a glossary, a useful index, and developed bibliographic notes for each chapter build this into a useful reference book as well as an interesting story. It is of particular use to those trying to build or enhance a greater understanding of the interplay between the land and major historical movements. A valuable book for geologists and for those interested in historical development of the US. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readership levels. J. W. Green University of South Carolina Upstate
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Booklist Review
Geology and oceanography professor Meldahl provides a unique outlook on the historic California Trail. By blending excerpts from settler diaries and his own comprehensive view of the geology of the regions they traversed, he succeeded in crafting a generously illustrated book for general-interest readers that combines social and scientific perspectives, and provides a wealth of detail about the formation of a landscape that includes the Snake River Plain, Yellowstone, the Sierra Nevada, and California's great gold deposits. While Meldahl relishes such topics as a discussion of deep time and the men who proved that the earth's age was recorded in rocks and fossils, it is the inclusion of so many poignant voices of those who struggled to survive the journey that lift the book far above the standard and reveal the beating hearts behind the frontier landscape. This is a surprisingly affecting history and a solid geologic analysis of the Gold Rush Trail. Consider it an unorthodox source for anyone interested in the history of that event.--Mondor, Colleen Copyright 2007 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Library Journal Review
Meldahl (geology & oceanography, MiraCosta Coll.) has succeeded admirably in interweaving two compelling historical narratives. One is the overland migration of settlers heading west to California in the 1840s and 1850s. The other is the geological history of the North American continent, particularly as it has slowly moved west over the last 200 million years. The resulting narrative structure alternates seamlessly between vivid accounts of the 19th-century journey and lucid explanations of the geological events that shaped the landscape traveled. Meldahl makes profuse and effective use of firsthand quotes from journals and letters, historical and contemporary photographs, and geological diagrams. The reader comes away with both an appreciation for the arduous cross-continental wagon journey and an understanding of the events that created such a vast and difficult landscape. This book allows us to experience vicariously the last time in history that travelers across North America had to confront, personally and physically, the features of the landscape on a daily basis. Highly recommended for science and U.S. history collections.-Walter L. Cressler, West Chester Univ. Lib., PA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.