The Bonanza King traces the rags-to-riches frontier story of Irish immigrant John Mackay, describing how in mid-nineteenth-century Nevada he outmaneuvered the pernicious 'Bank Ring' monopoly and thousands of rivals to take control of the history-making Comstock Lode.
According to Crouch (China’s Wings, 2010), Mackay was no robber baron. As one who had worked claims himself, he understood the needs and aspirations of his workers. In an age of industrial turmoil, he maintained harmonious relations with his employees, contributed heavily to charities, and fought against various monopolies as his business interests expanded. Crouch presents a well-written and laudatory biography of a remarkable and admirable man.
Some readers may be appalled at our ancestors’ greed for gold, but Mr. Crouch takes a more sympathetic view ... Mr. Crouch clearly admires his protagonist, at times nearly to distraction. He portrays Mackay throughout this well-written and worthwhile book as a man of high principle—kind, charitable and fair, dependably doing the noble thing.
Crouch’s biography will certainly make him better known than he is today, albeit by a small circle of scholars ... In the book’s first half, there’s hardly a direct quotation from Mackay, and that’s too bad. He’s a silent as well as invisible man ... No one does a better job than Crouch when he explores the subject of mining, and no one does a better job than he when he describes the hardscrabble lives of miners.