The astonishing story of how a depressed rural region in the 1920s was unexpectedly transformed after the Stock Market Crash of 1929 into a scene of vibrant activity and record employment. Gold from the richest mining districts of California made boom towns of Grass Valley and Nevada City while the rest of America staggered under the burdens of unemployment, financial failure and collapse. It wasn't all peaches and cream; some refugees from the cities and the Dust Bowl suffered before finding their way to the region, but they found jobs that paid living wages. Families soon were buying homes and automobiles and appliances, further spurring the local economy. Amazingly, the population of the area doubled between 1930 and 1940, during which time the region benefited from the work relief programs inaugurated by President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal, and local leaders attracted public works projects that renewed the local infrastructure. This is probably the most upbeat account ever written about the Great Depression; and every word is true. California historian Kevin Starr calls it "a first-rate work of regional history."
632 pp. 150 illus, 3 maps; paperback