Olsson's Book Bits

by Greta Olsson

Good Time Girls by Lael Morgan
Whitecap Books, Vancouver/Toronto, 1998
Paperback, 321 Pages
ISBN 1-55110-994-8

I picked up this history of the gold rush, with its focus on the earliest female pioneers of the far North, while in Alaska. The Los Angeles Times put this account 6th among the 100 best nonfiction books of 1998. The work is generously illustrated, and describes several of the prostitutes as truly "golden-hearted" - generously helping a client who needed money, or keeping their gold for them. One gal seemed to enjoy the life, and gave away most of what she earned to help others.

"These women possessed the courage and perseverance to brave a dangerous journey of more than a thousand miles, into a harsh wilderness where men sometimes outnumbered them more than ten to one. Many of these women later became successful entrepreneurs, wealthy property owners, or the wives of prominent citizens; one former prostitute married the mayor of Fairbanks, and hosted a visit from President Warren G. Harding. Their influence changed life in the far North forever."

The series of biographies are varied and fascinating.

Blood and Money by Thomas Thompson
Carroll & Graf publishers, 1976
474 Pages
ISBN O-7867-O947-2

This Texas murder has been done by other authors, and was also made into a movie telling a different story from Thompson's account. Because of his excellent work in Serpentine, I tend to trust Thompson more than other writers, and also more than Hollywood.

The story is more centered on Ash Robinson and his great love for his daughter Joan, than on her husband John Hill. The background is rich in detail, and supports Thompson's view of what really happened. When it comes to true crime, I would place this author up there with Ann Rule. Whenever I see his name on a volume, I buy his book and enjoy it thoroughly - that is, as much as one can enjoy an account of murder. The content is gripping, but his treatment is what is enjoyable.

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