Skip to main content
PBS logo

Search - California Gold

California Gold
California Gold
Author: John Jakes
James Macklin Chase was a poor Pennsylvanian who dreamed of making it rich in California. But at the turn of the century, the money to be made was in oil, citrus, water rights, and the railroads. Mack would have it all, if he had his way. And along the way, the men and women he met, the passion he found, the enemies he made, and the great histor...  more »
Info icon
ISBN-13: 9780394561066
ISBN-10: 0394561066
Publication Date: 8/27/1989
Pages: 658
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.

3.9 stars, based on 14 ratings
Publisher: Random House
Book Type: Hardcover
Other Versions: Paperback, Audio Cassette
Reviews: Member | Amazon | Write a Review

Top Member Book Reviews

reviewed California Gold on + 5 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
California, supposedly "the world's paradigm of hope and opportunity," is Jakes's ( North and South ) setting for this novel about Mack Chance, an underdog whose ascent from poverty to affluence is a classic American success story. Like so many ambitious dreamers, Mack, an indigent Pennsylvanian, arrives in San Francisco in 1887 determined to make his fortune. To his dismay, he finds hardship, violence, bigotry, lawlessness and a city caught in the stranglehold of rapacious Southern Pacific railroad tycoons. Mack meets two bewitching women--rich, emotionally unstable Carla Hellman and dynamic Nellie Ross, a reporter for W. R. Hearst's San Francisco Examiner. After striking oil and becoming an orange grower, Mack prospers, but is left heartbroken when career-oriented Nellie won't marry him. He impulsively weds Carla, with disastrous results, while alienating many influential men by championing liberal causes. With strong commercial appeal, the novel potently conveys the raw, irrepressible vitality of California, but the historical backdrop (especially the 1906 earthquake) outshines the conventional rags-to-riches plot. Jakes's impressive research, plus his lively depictions of Hearst, Ambrose Bierce, Leland Stanford, Teddy Roosevelt and others, enriches the story considerably.
reviewed California Gold on + 32 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
John Jakes is a great storyteller. This is a story about James Chance who dreams of becoming a rich Californian. It tells about his adventures along the way. You read about William Randolph Hearst and other powerful men of the era.
reviewed California Gold on + 18 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Love all John Jakes books. A lot of great historical information in a wonderful fiction plot. It's about the early days of California.
reviewed California Gold on
Helpful Score: 1
True to John Jakes fashion. What a wonderful read.
Read All 11 Book Reviews of "California Gold"

Please Log in to Rate these Book Reviews

reviewed California Gold on + 15 more book reviews
Good reading book hard to put down Gene C
reviewed California Gold on + 14 more book reviews
This is an historical novel, well-written, involving and informative. If you are curious about California and like a good narrative, I recommend it.
shooky avatar reviewed California Gold on + 138 more book reviews
madamepince avatar reviewed California Gold on
This is a very good read and so full of California history! I really liked it and I'm sure you will too.
reviewed California Gold on + 20 more book reviews
Written by the same author as North and South, this book tells the tale of the California Gold Rush. It is well written and a must read for lovers of historical fiction