NON-FICTION: Golden Ghost

The Story.* When Captain Frémont entered California in 1846, 25 troopers, trained to a hair mounted on stallions, wearing gold-braided green uniforms, met him in the mountains. Impressed, Frémont complimented the burly Swiss who led them and the latter, Johann August Sutter, conducted Frémont to an eminence to behold New Helvetia, the largest richest one-man domain in the New World.

Hundreds of square miles it covered, the broad upper valley of the Sacramento. Herds of pedigree cattle browsed its meadows. Orchards bowed with tons of fruit. Gardens of European truck spread for acres,...

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