But behind this myth is a tale of longing and survival. As a young man he is sent from Gothenburg with his brother Linus, to seek their fortunes in New York. In the chaos of the port, he is separated from Linus and finds himself instead on a ship bound for California. Determined to find Linus, Håkan sets out on a journey east, moving against the tide of history, experiencing the Gold Rush and its effects, encountering capitalists and colonialists, explorers and early scientists, and witnessing the formation of America and the betrayal of its dream.
This is the story of a stranger in a strange new land, looking out onto the vast landscape in confusion, fear and wonder. As Håkan confronts desert and mountains, heat and ice, he is thrown between the threat of violence and devastating loneliness - all the while keeping the image of his brother, and the hope of companionship, in the distance.