Chasing Family Down the California Gold Rush Trail
Wangersky’s great-great grandfather crossed the continent in search of gold in 1849. His name was William Castle Dodge, and he was 22 years old. He wrote a diary of that eventful journey that comes into the author’s hands 160 years later. Wangersky decided to follow Dodge’s westward trail across the great bulging middle of America, not in search of gold but something even less likely: that elusive thing called family.
What ensues becomes this story, by turns hilarious and profound, about a very long trip — by car, in Wangersky’s case, and on mule and foot in Dodge’s. Interweaving his experiences on the road with Dodge’s diary, the author contemplates the human need to hunt for roots and meaning as he — and Dodge — encounter immigrants who risk everything to be somewhere else, while only glimpsing those who are there already and who want to hold onto their claim in the stream of human migration.
Same Ground is a story about what time washes away and what persists — and what we might find, unexpectedly, if we go looking.
New Book Synopsis