Lourie, Peter. Jack London and the Klondike Gold Rush
March 28th 2017 by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
ARC provided by the publisher at ALA
Jack London certainly lived fast and died young. He is the embodiment of the life of adventure in the days when there were still frontiers to be conquered. Not content with a rough and tumble life in the US, he took off (with his elderly brother-in-law, who funded the trip) to the Yukon to prospect for gold in 1897. He managed to get all of his gear to a camp (no small feat; the living conditions were unimaginably terrible), rounded up a good group of people, and was making a fairly decent go of it before succumbing to, of all things, scurvy! His experiences, as well as his practice of talking to everyone he met, gave him ample fodder for his writing, which still provides the most intimate picture of living conditions in this particular place and time.
I've been looking for more interesting narrative nonfiction for my students. Byrd and Igloo, The Boys in the Boat, and No Better Friend have all done very well in my library, and I foresee this joining the ranks of those fine tomes. This book is well-formatted, with good sized text and a lot of illustrative photographs. These don't necessarily show London himself, but aptly illustrate what is going on in the text. The only thing that I didn't like about the formatting was the inclusion of a quantity of illustrations by Wendell Minor-- while well done, they just seemed odd, and I would have preferred period illustrations, perhaps from the news publications of the day.
Excerpts from London's writings, great appendices of people, places, and information about the Gold Rush, as well as a very nicely arranged timeline of London's life all add informational value to a riveting read about a fascinating time and place.