Review of 'Gold! A Gringo's Guide' by Jack Livingston, Reviewed by Rob Farrugia
by Robert Farrugia
(Island of Malta)
Gold! A Gringo’s Guide, Written by Jack Livings
Reviewed by Rob Farrugia
Let me begin by saying that this book was a genuine pleasure to review. Having started with little knowledge of the practicalities of Ecuador or the practices of searching for gold in Ecuador, I can honestly say I feel fairly well informed about both topics now, and part of that was the way that Livings was able to transfer an actual feel for the place through his writings.
The book reads in a down to earth, direct and no nonsense style, and the reader comes away with the sense that he has just spent a couple of hours down at the local pub discussing the subject with an old friend. The book starts off with a brief introduction to Ecuador, and then proceeds to cover every major question that is usually encountered by a newbie. Practicalities of dealing with local fauna, flora and Ecuadorian customs and people are addressed. Costs and legal advice are described. Although Jack does spend some time on large scale operations, which are the norm in Ecuador, and which I may point out, few books have been written on, he does in no way ignore small scale prospecting and describes several methods a small scale prospector can use to find gold, from the use of GPS, panning, dredging, and even a brief analyses of the water currents and curves of a flowing stream in relation to the optimal places to pan for gold! In addition, he covers different methods of striking a claim, how and where to make a claim legally, the different types of forms gold may present itself in (such as alluvial gold Vs. Hard rock), and an introduction to many of the intricate and vital pieces of equipment used in the mining and prospecting industry. His amusing anecdotes about life in Ecuador are great illustrations of what and what not to do (learn from his mistakes – and why you should never crash into a wild bee hive!), and his practical observations leave nothing to be desired. I think ‘practical’ is the best word to describe this book. Livings didn’t write this from a compilation of other texts: it was all learnt on the job, from practical experience. He actually made a living through prospecting and mining, and continues to do so today. Clearly, he is well informed. This immediately separates his work from 95% of other books out there written by ‘armchair authors’.
But Livings doesn’t stop there. He goes above and beyond the other 5% of books by describing in detail what to do once you have found gold and how to not only purify, and melt it down into a form ready to be bought, but also how to go about selling it and converting it into cold, hard cash – something I’ve never seen in any other publication. He even gives the names of reputable gold dealers.
Continuing on, he goes on to analyze and describe the ins and outs of importing, exporting and dealing in gold, as well as advice on the transportation of the metal. His warnings about Ecuadorian laws, such as being presumed guilty rather than innocent if involved in a car accident whilst driving is worth the price of the book by itself, as many people are still far too unaware that such Napoleonic statutes still exist and are enforced.
Overall, ‘Gold! A Gringo’s Guide’ is an excellent and informative read, that anyone, especially if heading down to Ecuador, can learn from. The value of this little volume should not be underestimated and thought limited to this truly amazing South American country, however. The principles contained therein may be applied to any prospecting situation where gold may be found. The text is also accompanied by clear and instructive photographs taken presumably, by Livings himself. And small though the book may be, it packs a mean punch, and is fairly condensed with information for its size. Information gleaned from years in practical, hard work and experience in the field. This makes the text a multifunctional, practical volume for gold seekers, by a gold seeker.
‘Gold! A Gringo’s Guide’ is Available through Amazon.com in Kindle Format