• Stampede

  • Gold Fever and Disaster in the Klondike
  • By: Brian Castner
  • Narrated by: Brian Castner
  • Length: 8 hrs and 8 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (53 ratings)

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Stampede

By: Brian Castner
Narrated by: Brian Castner
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Publisher's Summary

A gripping and wholly original account of the epic human tragedy that was the great Klondike Gold Rush of 1897-98. One hundred thousand men and women rushed heedlessly north to make their fortunes; very few did, but many thousands of them died in the attempt.

In 1897, the United States was mired in the worst economic depression that the country had yet endured. So when all the newspapers announced gold was to be found in wildly enriching quantities at the Klondike River region of the Yukon, a mob of economically desperate Americans swarmed north. Within weeks tens of thousands of them were embarking from western ports to throw themselves at some of the harshest terrain on the planet - in winter yet - woefully unprepared, with no experience at all in mining or mountaineering. It was a mass delusion that quickly proved deadly: avalanches, shipwrecks, starvation, murder. 

Upon this stage, author Brian Castner tells a relentlessly driving story of the gold rush through the individual experiences of the iconic characters who endured it. A young Jack London, who would make his fortune but not in gold. Colonel Samuel Steele, who tried to save the stampeders from themselves. The notorious gangster Soapy Smith, goodtime girls and desperate miners, Skookum Jim, and the hotel entrepreneur Belinda Mulrooney. The unvarnished tale of this mass migration is always striking, revealing the amazing truth of what people will do for a chance to be rich.

©2021 Brian Castner (P)2021 Random House Audio
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

Critic Reviews

"Gripping." (The New York Times Book Review)

"Compelling...Like Timothy Egan did for the Dust Bowl in The Worst Hard Time, Castner combines oral histories, memoirs, and research to vividly evoke the Yukon Gold Rush through people and nature. . .Readers who enjoy history, adventure, and nature writing, and fans of Egan, Candice Millard, and Jack London, will savor this page-turner.” (Library Journal)

 “Castner paints a dramatic and frequently gruesome portrait of the Klondike gold rush... Packed with evocative details and colorful personalities, this immersive history captures the tragic consequences of 'gold fever.' " (Publishers Weekly)

What listeners say about Stampede

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Get-Rich-Quick Schemes Still Don't Work

This is a history and adventure story for those who enjoy reading about people who overcome great odds to succeed.

People will go to any length to get rich quick. Local miners discovered gold on Aug. 16, 1896 in the Klondike region of Yukon, in Northwestern Canada. When the news reached Seattle and San Francisco the following year, it triggered the Klondike Gold Rush. A mob of over 100,000 prospectors set out in the initial rush in 1897. The vast majority went in vain. Less than half made it to the headwaters of the Yukon. Of those, only another half made it to the Klondike. Author Brian Castner, in Stampede: Gold Fever and Disaster in the Klondike, tells the story of the gold rush through individual experiences of the iconic characters who endured it.

Three quarters of those who left on the stampede were shipwrecked, shot, suffocated, frozen, starved, drowned, or demoralized to the point they gave up and went home. Less than 1% (only a few hundred) dug out enough gold to be considered rich. Most gambled it away or lost it in speculative investments.

The Klondike Gold Rush, according to author Brian Castner, was a "naturally occurring pyramid scheme.” Profits flowed to the lucky few at the start, and the later arrivals were almost guaranteed to lose everything. By 1898 the newspapers that had encouraged so many to travel to the Klondike lost interest. Some called the rush "a contagion of hopes and misinformation.”

This is the story of the lengths humanity will go to seek supposedly greener grass (and greater riches) on the other side. Unfortunately get-rich-quick schemes and sensationalized news are still pervasive. The poor and desperate around the world continue to take unimaginable risks to escape suffering in search of a better life that supposedly exists somewhere else far away. A dangerous and all-too-human movement of ill-informed continue to seek an elusive chance of economic opportunity.

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Great story, really enjoyed this book

I read about the book in the WSJ review & really enjoyed it & highly recommend. Wasn't aware of the magnitude of this gold rush & fun to learn about the characters & history involved. Will look into other books written by this author.

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great historical information made very interesting

This is about the characters (along with other interesting information) about the people that made up the gold rush to Alaska. interesting from cover to cover

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Don't visit lower Alaska without reading/listening

I listened to this history just before taking a cruise which included Skagway. Happy I did. Worth reading cruise or no cruise.

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what's not to like?

well written, well told, well narrated...instant classic, I've got nothing bad to say about it, says a lot right there.

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Excellent! Rip roaring adventure!Horrifying! Heartbreaking!

Caster tears the gild and romance out of this story and in its place gave me a rip roaring adventure that left my head shaking and pulse running. He zooms out to put the whole event in context of the age before zooming in on vivid, hard, fair portrait of individuals that lived it… . It’s a short book, densely packed with historical nuggets beneath prose as clear as mountain stream.

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  • J
  • 08-09-21

A great listen

While at first this might not be a historical period that I would normally gravitate towards, I quickly became engrossed in the history and the array of characters. Brian weaves his story along an expert path that exposes the absurdity of the gold rush mania and the brutal human costs while giving voice to those history had previously excluded from the narrative. I feel like I will be reflecting on this story for some time. Who knew that a story about a centuries ago gold rush would be so applicable to modern times? America seems destined to repeat its history.

Brian is also a fantastic narrator, clear and easy listening as he tells his story. I find his books to be well worth the time to listen and this is another solid addition to my library.

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Excellent story of an unimaginable time.

I grew up in Southern California and was very familiar with the romanticized Hollywood stories of the California gold rush. Brian’s retelling of an unfamiliar (to me) gold rush in a way that brought to the surface the gritty reality of the time in a way that was brutally honest was both captivating and refreshing.

It was captivating in the narrative that had me flinch with pain and shiver with cold as he described the conditions of the time. From the comfort of my modern life, It’s hard to fathom the hardships and deprivation mankind will endure, and the depths of evil that existed then and remains today.

It was refreshing to hear Brian unflinchingly use language of the day to truly capture the historical significance of the time. To retell past sins in an honest way is, in my humble opinion, the only way to ensure those sins are not repeated.

Thank you, Brian, for the courage to tell the tale as it needed to be told.

I highly recommend this book and all of Brian’s works.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-24-22

Informative but not dry

A well read, enjoyable and informative listen. The overall story is effectively told through the experiences of a variety of individuals which helps make sense of a wealth of well researched, and considered, facts.

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  • Reluctant Sceptic
  • 03-05-22

A wonderful account.

A riveting listen throughout and highly recommended if you want a warts and all account of the Klondike gold rush. More please.

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  • Eamon
  • 01-05-22

Fantastic

A fantastic story
Very well written and read

A very enjoyable listen

I d highly recommended it