Rex Beach (1877 – 1949) was an American novelist, playwright, and Olympic water polo player. In 1904 he was a member of the American water polo team which won the silver medal in the St. Louis Games.
Rex Beach pursued a career as a lawyer before being drawn to Alaska at the time of the Klondike Gold Rush. After five years of unsuccessful prospecting, he turned to writing.
His first novel, The Spoilers, was based on a true story of corrupt government officials stealing gold mines from prospectors, which he witnessed while he was prospecting in Nome, Alaska. The Spoilers became one of the best selling novels of 1906.
His adventure novels were immensely popular throughout the early 1900s. Beach was lionized as the "Victor Hugo of the North," but others found his novels formulaic and predictable. Critics described them as cut from the "he-man school" of literature: stories of "strong hairy men doing strong hairy deeds."
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1. The Spoilers
Rex Beach’s first novel, The Spoilers, was based on a true story of corrupt government officials stealing gold mines from prospectors, which Beach witnessed while he was prospecting in Nome, Alaska. The novel begins with the return of Dextry and Roy Glenister to Nome to reclaim their mine, The Midas. On their arrival, they find “The Law” has come to Nome. The problem is “The Law” is crooked, bent on stealing all the best gold mines in Alaska. Alec McNamara is the villain in this novel and rules with a heavy hand through the aging and corrupt Judge Stillman. Helen Chester is the naïve niece of Judge Stillman. She cannot believe her uncle is involved in such treachery. And of course, Roy Glenister is in love with her. After trying to work within the law, the miners eventually form a vigilante group called The Stranglers to right the wrongs while Glenister continues to believe the law can correct the wrongs.
The Spoilers became one of the bestselling novels of 1906. The novel was made into movies five times, with leading men including Gary Cooper, Randolph Scott and John Wayne.
2. The Weight of Obligation by Rex Beach (18th story in short story collection # 45)
3. The Silver Horde - The Silver Horde , is set in Kalvik, a fictionalized community in Bristol Bay, Alaska, and tells the story of a down on his luck gold miner who discovers a greater wealth in Alaska's run of salmon (silver horde) and decides to open a cannery. To accomplish this he must overcome the relentless opposition of the "salmon trust," a fictionalized Alaska Packers' Association, which undercuts his financing, sabotages his equipment, incites a longshoremen's riot and bribes his fishermen to quit.
4. Flowing Gold - Unfairly given a dishonorable discharge from the army, Calvin Gray goes to Dallas, where he manages to win the trust of a jeweler and is able to sell a number of diamonds to the newly oil rich Briskows. He makes friends with the family and helps them adjust to their newly found riches. The Briskows, in turn, help him prove false the charges that caused his dismissal from the army.
5. Laughing Bill Hyde (5th & 6th story in Short Story Vol 57)