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American West

Diamonds - The Rush of '72 by Sam North
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Product Details: Printed: 289 pages, 6" x 9", perfect binding, black and white interior ink
ISBN: 978-1-4116-1088-0 Copyright: 2004

When two Kentucky prospectors, John Slack and Philip Arnold arrived penniless and near starving in San Francisco to deposit raw 'American' diamonds in the Bank of California, it caused quite a stir. Rumors flew across the city. This was going to be bigger than Kimberley and everyone wanted a piece of the action. But Slack and Arnold would be hard men to woo. This is a true story. What begins as a trickle in the Colorado mountains would grow into the great rush of 1872 and ruin the lives of almost everyone it touched.

"Diamonds -- The Rush of '72" by Sam North by Johnny Frem Dixon

What a story! An intriguing tale that had me wondering all the way through about which of these vivid characters, each with so much at stake, would outwit the others, to make their fortune during the Diamond Rush that got everyone in California and as far away as New York, London and South Africa all fired up again with more of the same fever that heated up the Gold Rush. I read it this summer as I was heading by car with my business partner up into the Northwest Territories of Canada to visit with an old flame of his, whose husband works as an engineer at the huge diamond mine in the middle of Great Bear Lake. There were a myriad of synchronicities between Sam North's book and our own adventure, so I can't be sure without prejudice if my rave review is a reflection of my incredulity with those co-incidences or simply an admiration for the writing. The research must have been monumental. So many details to verify. No doubt there's a lot of room to lie. There are many detailed portraits of characters we allow Sam to invent since thier only purpose is to color the story. But there's also so much that had to be factual, since it's all based in a true episode of that rugged history. I understood so much more about the past I've come from and the aspirations of the wave of immigration to the West Coast of North America, because "Diamonds" took me right inside the people and their dreams. The book moves smoothly and segues seamlessly from one character's point-of-view to another's. Just when you think you know what's going to happen next, there's another surprise. This book is a marvel.
© Johnny Frem Dixon Nov 2006

'A terrific piece of storytelling' - Chris Lean by Sam North
DIAMONDS - The Rush of 72 by Sam North

If the intention of a historical novel is to transport the reader into a time and place far flung from their own, and immerse them fully in the sights, smells and experiences of the people who lived there, then Sam Norths new novel, Diamonds - The Rush of 72 is great historical fiction in the truest sense of the word. This is a Western with a twist, taking the familiar concept of fortune-seeking on the new frontier and placing it within a context that, until now, has not been attempted. Set in the 1870s, Diamonds - The Rush of 72 tells the story of Philip Arnold and John Slack, two prospectors who, despite ridicule, are determined to get rich by finding diamonds on American soil. When they turn up at the Bank of California to deposit a stash of precious stones they set in motion a diamond rush, fuelled by the greed and ambition of men more powerful than themselves, and their lives are changed for ever - though not in the way they intended. This is a great tale of adventure and intrigue that, with its fast-paced action and surprising plot turns, will be enjoyed even by readers who (like myself) are usually turned off by tales of the Old West. Its characters, particularly the grizzled adventurers Arnold and Slack, the unscrupulous banker William Ralston and the pompous General Colton, are all entirely believable and give the story human interest as well as a broad historical sweep. However, it is Sam Norths grasp of the period setting that impresses above all. His recreation of an age of opportunity and danger, in which men can rise or fall in less time than it takes to load a gun or finish a game of poker, is vivid and compelling. It is a time in which places like San Francisco are changing from wild outposts into great cities but in which catching a train still means taking your life into your own hands. Sam North clearly has a passion for the Old West and his knowledge of the period is evident on every page. This is a terrific piece of storytelling that, despite checking in at under 300 pages, still has epic proportions. It is highly recommended for lovers of the Old West and, more importantly, for all those who enjoy a good adventure story well told.
© Chris Lean Historical Novel Society Reviewer 2005

Diamonds - The Rush of '72
is available also. $19.95 from in the USA

Diamonds - The Rush of '72
By Sam North

ISBN: 1-4116-1088-1

Buy now from
'a terrific piece of storytelling' Historical Novel Society Review

Now printed in the UK and available from
& Waterstones


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