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"The phrase 'seeing the elephant' symbolized for ’49 gold rushers the exotic, the mythical, the once-in-a-lifetime adventure, unequaled anywhere else but in the journey to the promised land of fortune: California. Most western myths...generally depict an exclusively male gold rush. Levy’s book debunks that myth. Here a variety of women travel, work, and write their way across the pages of western migrant history." (Choice)
Many of the women shared the same eagerness for adventure as the men (in contrast to the conventional image of the long-suffering martyr accompanying her husband). Levy intersperses her text with excerpts from diaries and journals and concludes with brief biographies of 17 women participants.
The book is published by University of Oklahoma Press.
“One of the best and most comprehensive accounts of gold rush life to date.” (San Francisco Chronicle)
"Makes a significant contribution to the scholarship of women's studies.... Devotees of Californiana will enjoy this adventure story." (Library Journal)
“They Saw the Elephant is beautiful, brilliant, funny and brave. It's hard to read this book without laughing out loud - or choking back tears.” (Carolyn See, author of Golden Days)