Book: Sourdoughs, Claim Jumpers & Dry Gulchers

Building on the success of his first two nonfiction books, Matthew Mayo has delivered again with Sourdoughs, Claim Jumpers & Dry Gulchers: Fifty of the Grittiest Moments in the History of Frontier Prospecting (TwoDot Publishing, $17). This book is bound for similar greatness, giving a glimpse of the harsh realities of a lawless Wild West populated by thousands risking it all to strike it rich in the gold rush. As if finding the precious metal weren’t hard enough, this book shows that keeping it was just as difficult—many greedy prospectors found it easier to steal (or kill) than dig. I normally shy away from historical literature, but Mayo crafts rich, enjoyable vignettes complimented by historical photographs. Next time you sit shotgun in a friend’s car, consider the origin of the phrase “claim-jumpers”—and be happy you don’t have to wield an actual double-barrel to defend your vehicle’s bounty.