4 out of 5 stars
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The Man Who Moiled for Gold by David G. Rasmussen tells the story of Charley Martin.
Charley was a miner — one of the best miners on Butte Hill. Despite his 69 years of age, he had a lot left in him to give. Unfortunately, he had silicosis. His boss discovered this and had him sacked. As Charley thought about where to go from there, he began to dig out some memories he had kept hidden. His past was brought to the fore as he tried to find his way.
The first thing I'd like to commend would be how the author managed the past and present narratives. The book was written in the present, but Charley Martin's past was revealed through his memories and the stories he shared with his family. The author switched between the past and present a few times. With each revelation of Charley's past, we could better understand his present and why things were the way they were.
Charley's story is a moving, powerful one. I commend the author's ability to capture my attention and keep it glued to the book's pages. The plot development is so well done that despite switching between present and past, the thread of the story is still intact. Instead, each part of the past that is narrated somehow complements what is happening in the present. The author expertly paints a picture of placer mining in the 1860s. He shows these men's internal and external struggles, with losses, frustrations, disappointments, and joys that come with mining for gold.
The characters were very real; I felt connected to them. Their emotions were palpable, and their times of grief and joy would be felt acutely by the reader. At first, it was like there were two versions of the main character — the old Charley, who had seen too much, and the young, exuberant Charley with a thirst for adventure. As more of the story unfolded, the author bridged the gap between the two until I understood the complete picture. This was what I loved the most about the book.
There are some errors in this book; it gave the book an unprofessional feel. The book needs to be revised and edited. This is the only thing I don't like about the book. As a result, I rate it 4 out of 5 stars. I recommend it to people who love historical fiction, especially stories centered around placer mining.
The Man Who Moiled for Gold
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