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Global History of Gold Rushes

by Benjamin Mountford and Stephen Tuffnell University of California Press
Pub Date:
Pbk 336 pages
AU$48.99 NZ$49.56
Product Status: In Stock Now
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Nothing set the world in motion like gold. Between the discovery of California placer gold in 1848 and the rush to Alaska fifty years later, the search for the precious yellow metal accelerated worldwide circulations of people, goods, capital, and technologies. A Global History of Gold Rushes brings together historians of the United States, Africa, Australasia, and the Pacific World to tell the rich story of these nineteenth century gold rushes from a global perspective. Gold was central to the growth of capitalism: it whetted the appetites of empire builders, mobilized the integration of global markets and economies, profoundly affected the environment, and transformed large-scale migration patterns. Together these essays tell the story of fifty years that changed the world.
"At long last we have the gold rush phenomenon presented in a truly global and comparative fashion—from California to Alaska, and from eastern Australia to Ghana. This collection of essays by esteemed scholars changes the way we think about any particular gold rush as well as the complex social, economic, and political manifestations they brought about." —David Igler, author of The Great Ocean: Pacific Worlds from Captain Cook to the Gold Rush

"An outstanding collection of essays exemplifying global history at its best—dynamic, interconnected, and original. Gold rush societies brought people together from all over the globe; everyone came from somewhere else. In California and the Australian colonies, Chinese migrants sometimes comprised up to a quarter of all fortune seekers. Cosmopolitan in composition, these jostling, rapacious, New World communities were also crucibles of nationalist exclusion. This superb book charts the material, political, and social changes effected by these momentous events." —Marilyn Lake, author of Progressive New World: How Settler Colonialism and Transpacific Exchange Shaped American Reform

“Richly detailed and conceptually adventurous, this book shows how the rush for gold catapulted the nineteenth century into rapid globalization. Everything was affected—labor, capital, demography, environment, politics—as this collaboration of leading historians reveal. Global history at its best.” —Alison Bashford, author of Global Population: History, Geopolitics, and Life on Earth
Benjamin Mountford, Senior Lecturer in History at the Australian Catholic University in Melbourne, is the author of Britain, China, and Colonial Australia and coeditor of Fighting Words: Fifteen Books That Shaped the Postcolonial World. He was formerly a David Myers Research Fellow at La Trobe University (2017-18).


Stephen Tuffnell, Associate Professor of Modern US History at the University of Oxford, is currently completing Emigrant Foreign Relations: Independence and Interdependence in the Atlantic, c.1789-1902, and researches US history from a global perspective.