Gold Seeker


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Adventures of a Belgian Argonaut during the Gold Rush Years

Jean-Nicholas Perlot

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"An absorbing, factual account of a 26-year-old Belgian who came to American in the 1850's to start a new life in the California gold fields.  Perlot's adventures, carefully translated and edited by dedicated scholars, are unique in that the young Belgian was a candid, precise, vivid writer of unusual ability.  There is a mother lode of material here about the California mining industry, and the Yosemite Indian tribe, now extinct.  This is yet another class act from the Yale University Press and their series on Western Americana." —The Coast Book Review Service

"This is a valuable contribution to the Gold Rush literature; particularly recommended for collections dealing with the California Gold Rush and the Pacific Northwest." —Library Journal

"A splendid piece of Americana, for Perlot was a witty, gingery, intelligent man with a sharp eye for significant detail. . . .His book . . .has been translated and thoroughly annotated by the late Helen Harding Bretnor, who deserves the gratitude of all readers with a taste for the history of the Old West."—The Atlantic Monthly

"This lively memoir. . . .recounts Perlot's adventures in California and Oregon between 1851 and 1872."—Evan S. Connell, New York Times Book Review

"Interesting, often delightful reminiscences by a Belgian gold seeker who went to California in 1850; . . .personal history at its best. Written with warmth and humor, it is a minor classic lifted from obscurity, lovingly translated and intelligently edited."—Robert D. Monroe, The Seattle Times

"These memoirs, which provide foreign perspective on life in nineteenth-century California and the Pacific Northwest, range from accounts of Perlot's shipboard experiences to his adventures in the California Gold Rush, to carefully recorded observations of the customs of the now-extinct Yosemite Indians with whom the miners worked and became friends."—American History Illustrated

"Perlot opens the reader's eyes to the life of an immigrant, of a miner, of a landscape gardener and of a friend of the Indians in the 19th century in this colorful and absorbing adventure."—American Bookseller

"Belgian-born Perlot's journal is a witty and perceptive account of the 1849 Gold Rush and the California and Oregon frontier."—American West

"Substantial and absorbing, not only in regard to activities of the French and other parts of the foreign community in California gold fields, but in the Pacific Northwest where Perlot lived for about 15 years....Unlike more familiar accounts from Americans who went to the mines, Perlot's observations are from 'outside'....Altogether, Perlot's is a wonderful story."—Priscilla Knoth, Oregon Historical Quarterly

"There is immediacy, warmth and vividness throughout. . . . Gold Seeker provides a narrative as amusing as it is informative. Perlot is real gold, dug belatedly from the California mines."—Gerald Weales, Smithsonian

"A lively source of West Coast history."—Journal of the Early Republic

"Perlot's memoirs, perhaps his reveries, read like a combination of the sociocultural observations of an Ibn-Battutah, an Alexis de Tocqueville and a Marco Polo joined with the sense of humor and humanity that characterized Mark Twain's writings. Possessed of the romance, intrigue, adventure, and sheer excitement of any sojourner narrative, they surpass many such narratives by incorporation of other elements. . . . This is an invaluable portrait of the expatriate—one who remains a foreigner in a new 'native' land while becoming a 'foreigner' to his birthplace."—Choice

"This is a superb, remarkable narrative, vivid and precise both in language and detail, and contributes an invaluable perspective on the California era between 1850 and 1857."—Wayne A. Saroyan, San Francisco Examiner-Chronicle

"Perlot's Life And Adventures is not only an original story, it is a unique account of a Belgian argonaut.  It has exceptional value in that it covers a long period and records the experiences of scores of other French and Belgian nationals who participated in the California and later gold rushes.  A copy of Gold Seeker would enhance every personal and public library."—California History

"The account given by Jean-Nicolas Perlot of his experiences on the Pacific Slope is exceptional."—John Seelye, Times Literary Supplement

"The reader will be overwhelmed and almost overjoyed by Perlot's contributions to our understanding of the early history of California and Oregon." —Charles C. Colley, The Western Historical Review

"Perlot wrote clearly, fascinatingly, ironically about his years in California and later in Oregon. His account of the opening of Yosemite should not be missed, nor would anyone interested in Indian-White relations fail to read how it was possible for the rare, sensitive white to come to understand something of the original inhabitants. . . . This work is to be recommended to all interested in the early days of the American Far West." —R.A. Burchell, Journal of American Studies

"A notable contribution to the literature of both the California Gold rush and the early years of Oregon history.  It also portrays an interesting West coast aspect of mid-nineteenth-century European immigrant experience in the United States." —Edward H. Howes, Journal of the West

"A marvelous book. . . . Perlot's observations, both as a foreign miner and a settler in the pioneer West, give new meaning to a familiar historical experience." —Mary McDougall Gordon, Pacific Historical Review

"A meaningful contribution to gold rush literature, illuminating the role played by foreign nationals.  Gold rush and Western Americana buffs, as well as scholars, should find Gold Seeker to be yet another interesting account of a mid-19th-century argonaut- that breed of adventurer and fortune-seeker who looked to California as the Promised Land."—M. Guy Bishop, Californians

"This narrative of a gifted storyteller relays important themes of European and American history—the reaction of the Frenchman to the gold rush, the pioneer experience of immigrants to the West Coast, the foreign perspective on life in nineteenth-century California and the Pacific Northwest, the customs of the now-extinct Yosemite Indians."—California Geology

“[A] fascinating account.”—Richard White, Los Angeles Times
ISBN: 9780300019964
Publication Date: September 10, 1985