Read Klondike: The Last Great Gold Rush, 1896-1899 by Pierre Berton Online


With the building of the railroad and the settlement of the plains, the North West was opening up. The Klondike stampede was a wild interlude in the epic story of western development, and here are its dramatic tales of hardship, heroism, and villainy. We meet Soapy Smith, dictator of Skagway; Swiftwater Bill Gates, who bathed in champagne; Silent Sam Bonnifield, who lost aWith the building of the railroad and the settlement of the plains, the North West was opening up. The Klondike stampede was a wild interlude in the epic story of western development, and here are its dramatic tales of hardship, heroism, and villainy. We meet Soapy Smith, dictator of Skagway; Swiftwater Bill Gates, who bathed in champagne; Silent Sam Bonnifield, who lost and won back a hotel in a poker game; and Roddy Connors, who danced away a fortune at a dollar a dance. We meet dance-hall queens, paupers turned millionaires, missionaries and entrepreneurs, and legendary Mounties such as Sam Steele, the Lion of the Yukon.Pierre Berton's riveting account reveals to us the spectacle of the Chilkoot Pass, and the terrors of lesser-known trails through the swamps of British Columbia, across the glaciers of souther Alaska, and up the icy streams of the Mackenzie Mountains. It contrasts the lawless frontier life on the American side of the border to the relative safety of Dawson City. Winner of the Governor General's award for non-fiction, Klondike is authentic history and grand entertainment, and a must-read for anyone interested in the Canadian frontier....

Title : Klondike: The Last Great Gold Rush, 1896-1899
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780385658447
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 472 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Klondike: The Last Great Gold Rush, 1896-1899 Reviews

  • Czarny Pies
    2019-02-28 05:09

    This was the first book of history written by Pierre Berton. He wrote many books afterwards but never quite attained the same level as he did in this one. Berton grew up in the Klondike listening to stories from those who had lived through the crazy Gold Rush. Perhaps for this reason, writes about the Klondike Rush with the same fluidity and ease with which a fish swims. Berton describes the men of the Gold Rush with a breathtaking vividness and passion. It is a great speculation on the madness and passion for Gold.

  • Bart Breen
    2019-02-27 08:50

    Vintage Berton!As a Canadian living away from home, I never miss an opportunity to read a book by Pierre Berton. Berton had a talent for making History come alive in a way that is rare not only among Canadian authors, but indeed is rarely equaled and certainly not surpassed by any other author I have encountered abroad.Klondike is one of those books that is so well constructed and written that you forget you are reading History and instead are absorbed into the story-line as if you were reading a first-rate novel. Burton develops the story-line and characters so that you are drawn into the history and come to appreciate the facts of the era and location. The people become real. You leave having experienced history instead of just having been served warmed over facts with a few theories as to how they tie together.Despite the difference in genre, reading Burton's account of the Gold Rush in the North is every bit as entertaining as reading Farley Mowat or Jack London.I recommend this book highly. It is a good introduction to Berton, to the Canadian North, the history of the Yukon, and a good primer before you launch into the other great books of Berton if you have never read him before!

  • Krister Swartz
    2019-03-06 10:10

    I wavered between three and four stars for this one. Each paragraph of this book could easily have been developed into an entire book of its own. If you are in the mood to follow along on this grand sweeping epic then you'll think of this book as a four star, and perhaps a five, just for its incredible wealth of information, but if ever you want to pause, get to know someone a little better, or better understand any number of social, economic, historic, geographic, or other point you may become a little frustrated. A great book, sometimes breathtaking, sometimes infuriating.

  • 1.1
    2019-03-18 03:47

    I'll always remember one of Pierre Berton's final television appearances, in which he benevolently taught the Canadians watching how to roll a joint. With that unrelated anecdote in mind, this book is fantastic and a joy to read. The pure storytelling with which Berton imbues his history of the gold rush is enthralling. If you don't know anything about the Klondike gold rush, this is the book about it you should read. It covers everything, including the parts that are not so pretty. In the end, while it's sickening to read about the thousands of horses who died on hopeless journeys... well it's just as sickening to read about the two people who froze to death trying to boil a moccasin for food.This book adequately gives the idea of a great adventure, which, outside of the few lucky ones who got wealthy and stayed that way, is the true draw and theme of any gold rush. And this book is great enough that it adequately gives an idea of the entire three-year ordeal. I found it more than adequate, and Berton keeps the telling honest as well as lively.Reading this book is worth it if only for the character sketches Berton provides, for he is not the sort to leave an interesting story out of the mix, and evidently there were many interesting stories – and probably many more lost in the flames, snow, or mud.

  • Wendy Bertsch
    2019-03-24 08:48

    At the end of the nineteenth century, a ship entered Seattle harbour, carrying the vanguard of prospectors from the far north, who were bringing out a fortune in gold. The newspapers spread the news: the ship had carried a million dollars in gold...a new strike on the Klondike River.Well, they were wrong. There had been near $2 million in gold on that ship! People the world over went mad! They flocked by the tens of thousands to pan for gold on the tributaries of the Yukon River. A lot of them didn’t even know that the Klondike was in Canada...many people still don’t! And they certainly had no idea of the brutal conditions they would meet with in the Canadian north.Berton, who grew up in the Yukon himself, tells the story as no one else can. Few of the people who dashed to the north actually made it to the gold fields, and by the time they got there, the richest claims had long been snapped up, so fewer still struck it rich. The Klondike Gold Rush lasted only 3 years...but what a ride it was! Fortunes were made and lost by some of the most eccentric characters you'll ever find in print.Berton was one of Canada's best writers, and this is definitely one of his finest books.

  • Kathleen McRae
    2019-03-19 05:52

    Once again Pierre Burton has done his homework and this book is not only a chronicle of the events of the goldrush to the Yukon but contains many amusing antecedotes and colorful descriptions of the people who made their way north.

  • Justin Sorbara-Hosker
    2019-03-08 06:14

    So I’m a bookish, relatively proud Canadian who stopped believing the narrative that Canadian history was boring long ago – yet it’s taken me this long to read a Pierre Berton book. Bit of a fail, there. Anyway, my mistake – this is great stuff, and I think I understand why other historians flung so much mud in Berton's direction back in the day – his books are actually interesting (and I believe he sold well, too). This may be the golden age of narrative nonfiction – and I think that writers like Larson, Grann, Vaillant, Sides, Krakauer just might owe a debt to Berton. I've only read one of his books, but even so, there’s an argument to be made that he was introducing storytelling elements to nonfiction long before most other writers. This has everything - fights against the elements, animal holocausts (not kidding), economic craziness, a (literal) swarm of con men, bar fights, saloon gamblers, dance hall girls, incorruptible Mounties – oh yes, and gold mining, too. It’s like HBO’s Deadwood, but colder, less pompous, and more entertaining (and less gratuitious nudity and violence). The Klondike gold rush is like the dot-com bubble cranked up to 11 – in that boom, people lost their shirts, but at least it didn’t involve thousands of completely unprepared people getting crammed into rickety boats to extremely harsh climates bringing inadequate – well, everything. Clothing, tools, money – even most of the boats were inadequate. Which kind of doomed lots of people who did bring enough, say, food. This is fun, and you should read it. I should have started reading Berton long ago. Going to read Og to my kid, too.

  • Matthew
    2019-03-20 10:10

    This book was a gift from my sister who spent a summer driving tour buses in Skagway. It was interesting for me to learn the history of this part of the world, and of this episode in history that I was unfamiliar with. I'll admit that I can see why so many people got caught up in the stampede. The descriptions of plucking gold nuggets from the ground like acorns got me excited, and I began pondering how much unexplored land still remains in Alaska. However, as the author states at the end of the book, the numbers speak for themselves. Of the estimated 100,000 people who set off looking for gold in the north, only a few hundred were made rich, and most of these lost their wealth before leaving the Yukon. It is interesting to note the author's claim that in all the written memoirs of the gold rush, their is scarcely one note of regret. "Though few of the writers found any gold, it turned out in retrospect to have been a golden period for them." As one man wrote 30 years after the stampede, "I had thirty-five cents in my pocket when I set foot in Alaska, but I gave that to a mission church at Dutch Harbor. I did not have so much when I left the country more than two years later... I made exactly nothing, but if I could turn time back I would do it over again for less than that." I loved the author's statement at the close of the book, and I think it sums up well how I feel about the Klondike gold rush. "In some ways the great trek represents one of the weirdest and most useless mass movements in history." Fascinating!

  • Maa
    2019-03-22 05:12

    I couldn't even tell you what drew me to this book a few years ago at a book store closing sale. But - what a find! I want to read more by Pierre Berton. While he does give incredible detail about about the ways and means of participating in a gold rush, but it's more than that. He covers everything from the mindset to the frontier spirit needed to participate, and the impact of hundreds of thousands of people having that midset at spirit at the same time on society, culture and civilization. In the end, he goes into something that resonated with me completely; life really is about the journey, not the destination.

  • Steve.g
    2019-03-04 04:04

    Fantastic! This book has everything.History, travel, adventure, mining, stupendous acts of single minded perseverance, wildest dreams squared levels of riches often followed with indecent rapidity by gutter hugging poverty. Sometimes in the same weekend. Enterprise on a heroic scale, more mining, greed, sorrow, partying, stupendous acts of single minded stupidity and cold. Cold, cold, cold. Fall asleep with wet socks on and wake up needing to have your legs taken off at the knee cold.An extraordinary history told with such affection and knowledge I enjoyed every page.

  • Denise
    2019-03-02 08:50

    Amazing story of human folly and an insight into human nature. Of the more than 100 000 people involved in the gold rush only a small handful actually profited from it. One incredible story after another. Riveting reading.

  • Larry
    2019-03-22 05:01

    The tales are so outlandish and excessive, it is hard to believe they are part of Canadian history. A great read and a colorful part of our past. We own Berton tremendous thanks for preserving and translating our history in a way many can appreciate.

  • Lynn
    2019-02-26 05:06

    If there is one book to read on the Gold Rush, this is it. Concise, but readable, Pierre Berton manages to bring history to the masses. Just terrific.

  • John Collee
    2019-03-05 11:07

    Narrative social history of the very highest order from Canada's master of the genre

  • Alexander Weber
    2019-02-28 03:55

    Well it is about time I read this. I lived in the Yukon from 2013-2015, knowing almost nothing about the place or its history. I quickly fell in love with its natural beauty, but sort of ignored all of the gold-rush history. It just seemed too in-you-face, at least for someone hoping to live there for a while. As a tourist, I would certainly understand and encourage it.Reading Klondike certainly brought back memories: "oh hey! I've hiked that trail" or "oh hey! I've been down that river" or "oh THAT's who Diamond Tooth Gerty is!"The Yukon is a peculiar place, gorgeous beyond belief, and still relatively untouched. I'm thankful to Berton for educating me on the history, and for taking me back to some good memories.

  • Andrew
    2019-03-08 08:49

    Pierre Berton’s book is considered a classic resource on the Klondike gold rush because in the multiple editions he carefully researched issues on events (such as the killing of gangster Soapy Smith in Skagway) to eliminate the half-truths and pure legends. This is about the 1972 edition (the first edition was 1958, the last edition 2001), which added information on the reign of Soapy Smith in Skagway; more on E.A. Hegg, the leading photographer whose work portrays the stampede; , information from the diaries of Stroller White (a newspaper man) and Norman Lee (a Chilcoten rancher who ran supplies north, and new information on alternate trails used to get to the Yukon.I’m not familiar with additions made in the 2001 edition, the last before Pierre Berton died in 2004. It would be helpful if another Goodreads reviewer could outline changes in that final edition.Beyond the human drama of 100,000 people who would set off for the Klondike (only 30,000 – 40,000 reached Dawson City and only about 4,000 found any gold), the real story that Berton tells is how different the character of the rush was on either side of the American-Canadian border. Canadian law allowed anyone to mine minerals and taken them across the border, though American law at the time restricted mine to American citizens. During the gold rush, it is estimated that about 60% of those in the Yukon were Americans; 32% Canadians; and the rest from other countries. But the presence of the Mounted Police in Canada since earlier gold rushes along the Fraser River and Cariboo River meant a different set of laws:• Whiskey could not be sold to Native Americans• Sundays were dry days when saloons were closed and work forbidden• Tariffs were assessed on imported materials• Guns were banned, particularly in Dawson CityAnd it meant a different set of characteristics developed in Alaskan vs. Canadian communities, the American side often being ruled by miner's committees or vigilante organizations instead of military or civil authorities. In Skagway, Soapy Smith learned to manipulate the vigilante groups to his own means and further his illegal activities, at least until his death.

  • Dennis Osborne
    2019-02-23 04:12

    An interesting account of the many characters involved in the Klondike gold find, as well as the hardships they endured in getting there

  • Dave
    2019-03-14 03:07

    As the five stars indicate, I thought "Klondike" was amazing. Author and journalist Pierre Berton has written an truly enjoyable book about a one-of-a-kind event in Canadian/U.S. history. He spent a good portion of his life living in the area, thinking about the narrative, researching, interviewing participants, and exploring the stampede routes. His knowledge of the four year period, stampede, and area were perhaps unique; and it shows in his portrayal of the colorful characters, the hardships endured, the geography, and the exact chronology of events. He has painted a most complete history of this brief, intense period. And because he was able to interview several dozen actual participants (sourdoughs), his expertise can never be duplicated.Pierre Berton was born in Whitehorse, Y.T. in 1920 and spent his early childhood in Dawson. His father participated in the stampede as a very young man and his mother came north to teach school only a couple of years after the rush. Berton literally played on and around the abandoned equipment, old saloons, and mining claims of the actual Gold Rush. As an Alaskan, I am familiar with the places, names, and major events of the Gold Rush and I think Berton is pretty much spot on in this historical account. If you are interested in the history of the Canadian NW/Alaska you won't want to miss this book!

  • Pam
    2019-03-01 06:47

    We read this for book club. I actually give it 3 1/2 stars. This book is all facts and data with little flow. It is very evident that Berton did his homework prior to (and after) writing his book. However it doesn't tell the story in story telling fashion. More like a text book. I think he wanted to present all the accuracy and thus, the story lacks. Wonderful phrases about so many gold diggers and others in the Yukon and Alaska yet it seemed in point form. I could hear Berton's booming voice throughout the entire read.

  • George Ilsley
    2019-03-11 08:10

    History that reads like a novel. If there is one thing more thrilling than this account of the Klondike Gold Rush, written by Pierre Berton, it is reading it while living in Pierre Berton's childhood home in Dawson City, Yukon. The story is close to the author's heart, and he makes it endearing for the rest of us. The details of the gold rush are so incredible one cannot believe it can be true. And yet . . . the remnants are still visible in rusting hulks and decaying paddle wheel steamboats.

  • Alena Irvine
    2019-03-21 04:00

    I am almost finished this one, and I enjoy learning more about such a significant event in Canadian/American history; however, because Berton includes details of many people involved in the Gold Rush I find there are too many characters to ever become completely hooked. It would be valuable to read similar history from a First Nations perspective or any other perspective as well. The last chapter of this book is the best one in terms of explaining the historical significance of the Klondike.

  • Keith Wilson
    2019-02-23 03:07

    This is a catalog of practically every Klondike miner who rushed to the Yukon on difficult trails undergoing unbelievable hardships. Most did not strike it rich and the few that did, wasted it all on dollar dances and inflated prices. I would have liked the book better had he picked a few representative miners and allowed us into their lives. As it is, the book keeps them at arms length. They all seem alien to us; they are not.

  • William
    2019-03-07 10:48

    I read this book many years ago, and just re read it while traveling in the Yukon. The author is a little bombasstic in some of his descriptions. I'm also not sure he has all his facts right. He certainly gives a glowing well-done to the Canadian Mounted police's efforts during those gold rush years.

  • Morag Wehrle
    2019-03-21 04:46

    I've revisited this book several times. Berton was sometimes criticized as a "popularist" historian, but when he made our history so accessible and compelling, why complain? This book is a terrific read about a fascinating time in Canadian history.

  • Amelia Chappelle
    2019-02-22 05:47

    Very interesting and engaging read. It got a bit slogged down in the middle and I personally had a hard time reading over and over about all the horses and other animals dying. It provides a glimpse into a super unique and fascinating time in history.

  • Louis Shalako
    2019-02-25 02:48

    I always enjoyed his books.

  • Alice
    2019-03-11 07:58

    Good book

  • Matt French
    2019-03-07 07:14

    History at its finest! What an incredible adventure.

  • Emily Ekstrand-brummer
    2019-03-08 05:57

    This was pretty good for a narrative history, but towards the end i got bored of all the little stories and they all blended together and i just wanted the book to end.

  • Greggory Delman
    2019-03-12 04:08

    A deep exploration of the years leading up to and through the Klondike gold rush. Interesting facts organised in an easy to understand fashion.