Books: Silver Saga

CITY OF ILLUSION—Vardis Fisher—Harper ($2.50).

Around the time of the Civil War, Nevada's Virginia City, site of the fabulous Comstock Lode, was the wildest, hell-roaringest mining town in the world. Men who arrived haggard, filthy and penniless soon made thousands of dollars a week from the blue-black silver ore, gorged themselves on oysters, caviar, champagne. The streets thundered all night with brawling, boozing, wenching. Sam Brown, one of the first "bad men" of the old West, literally carved a man to pieces with his bowie knife, went to sleep on a table while his awed companions collected and removed the fragments. In...

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