Cover Image: Ghost Town Living

Ghost Town Living

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Member Reviews

I really appreciated Brent Underwood sharing his story with the reader. It had a strong story and I was invested in what was happening in this silver mine. I enjoyed reading this and left me wanting more.

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I enjoy reading memoirs, especially about people and situations that are very different from my own. Ghose Town Living tells the story of a man who purchased a former mining town in California, Cerro Gordo. This book is the story of his living in the town and attempting to bring it back as a rustic resort for people to experience the American Old West. Underwood is a good writer and this book is an interesting compilation of his adventures. For those who want a peek into the America of the 1800's, and an adventurer today, I recommend this book.

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Thank you for the early read. I liked the detail put into describing the aspects of the journey endeavored upon. It helped to provide visuals throughout the book and allowed me to have understanding and depth to the journey he was on.

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2 stars
I was unaware of Brent Underwood and Cerro Gordo prior to reading this book. I was intrigued by the notion of him restarting an old mining ghost town. The history of Cerro Gordo and all old mining towns are endlessly fascinating yet this book quickly dims. Ghost Town Living starts out very strong, however, Underwood loses focus rapidly and leaves a great deal of questions unanswered.
Underwood writes the book as if he is alone. But if so, who are his spotters when exploring the old caves and mines? Where is the money coming from? What's next? Is his money just coming from social media or is the purpose of this book just to fund some more time in his ghost town?
I struggled to finish this book, as Underwood tends to ramble and repeat himself. It is an okay read, but I would not recommend it.


I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and Netgalley.

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I was intrigued about Ghost Town Living, I wondered who would want to live in a ghost town and what they would do.

The author does a good job of describing the countryside that surrounds Cerro Gordo however, actually talking about living in the town left a lot to be desired.

Where did he sleep? What did the author eat? How did he get water?

I would get really excited about reading about the mines, then the author never fully explores them.
I wanted to know more about the water in the Level 700 mine, the chapter abruptly ended and then picked up in the epilogue.

The fire destroys the hotel, what other buildings were damaged? Can it still be a ghost town if you rebuild to a fancy hotel?

There was a lot of questions that I had that were never answered in the book:
1. What kind of partnership did he have to buy this land?
2. what was his goals in purchasing this property?
3. How many people lived there with the author?
4. How did he think he was going to make a living there?

This book was ok, but felt it was more of a diary then an actual journey into Ghost Town Living.

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I really enjoyed GTL. I think it will appeal to both fans of Brent's YouTube channel and to readers who are just hearing about Cerro Gordo for the first time. I loved learning about the history of the area and the role the mine and lake played in the development of Los Angeles. The book recaps some of what we've seen on the channel, and that's actually a good thing. It goes into more depth, fleshing out topics I either missed or were condensed due to the restraints of the format. I'd also give the writing itself five stars. Well done! Thanks to the publisher for the review copy!

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In the beginning I truly enjoyed this but then it seemed redundant, like we were circling back. I've been wondering if perhaps it was the way it was set up? Anyway, I felt like it could have been shorter for sure. I wasn't aware of the story before requesting the book but have since checked out his Instagram. I thought this would be some hardscrabble story but there's a lot of people out there helping, I get it, you have to start somewhere right? Many thanks for the opportunity to read the book.

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Thanks Netgalley for allowing me to read this book. Brent decided he wanted more out of life. He didn't like his job and was looking for a change. He decided he needs a challenge. He goes to California to do something that most people would look at as foolish and crazy. Brent got so much more than he ever thought from this little town. An inspiring read

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As a subscriber to the author’s YouTube channel, I was excited to have the opportunity to read Brent Underwood’s book Ghost Town Living. Having watched his adventures reviving the small town at the mouth of the once prosperous Cerro Gordo Mine in California, I was interested to learn more about his journey of acquiring the land and the many difficulties he has faced.

If you’ve watched the channel, then you will know that Brent has a poetic way with words and tends to convey a sense of wonder when speaking about the history of the mine and the natural beauty of the area surrounding it. This comes through clearly in his book and helps you to connect with the passion he has for giving the town a new lease on life. The book is filled with interesting stories of unique people he has met in the area, crazy fans showing up uninvited, and near-death experiences he has had while exploring the area.

The major downfall of the book is the way that it was structured. Instead of telling stories in a chronological order, the book is broken down into four parts named after the four elements earth, water, wind, and fire. This results in some confusion while reading the book as the author tells you a story in one section but then discusses an earlier part of the same story in a later section. I personally found this harder to follow and kept the book from feeling like a cohesive story.

Overall the book was an engaging read and I would recommend it to those interested in personal memoirs, the gold rush, and history of the southwest.

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In 2018, Underwood bought Cerro Gordo, an abandoned mining town high in the California desert. In 2020, he moved there more or less permanently to start restoration and exploration. (He also started a YouTube channel, which is what led to the traction for this book.) I've been looking forward to this book since well before it was announced; it's a hell of a story, no matter which way you slice it, and I was pretty sure it was only a matter of time.

Underwood writes much as he talks—if you watch his videos, you'll recognize the rhythms and generally be able to hear the book as you read. As much as I enjoy the videos, though, I'm not entirely sold on the book structure. Underwood is a good storyteller, but the book is structured more as connected essays than as a chronological memoir, and there are some strange gaps.

Underwood is passionate about this town and its history, and that passion comes through loud and clear, whether he's talking about rebuilding after a fire or the history of water access in the town. (Why water access? Because it's an isolated desert town, and whether in the 1800s or now, accessing it requires feats of logistics and/or engineering.) But...there's never a basic walkthrough of the town. Never a description of a day in the life in an abandoned mining town—or a day in the life of someone working in that town more than a century ago. A fire is mentioned in passing in early chapters, but it's not until chapter nine, which details that fire, that Underwood talks about the importance of the building that was lost. Readers don't have a chance to feel the weight of that loss in the way that Underwood did—to the reader, it might as well be a random old building that wasn't important enough to describe for the first half of the book, or important enough to include in the map at the beginning.

To an extent I get it—the fire is set up (rightly) as a catalyst, and it's easily the most dramatic moment of the book. A chronological structure would have placed it early in the book (just a few months after Underwood moved permanently to the town), leaving little time to build up to it...but as it stands, there aren't really enough details in the first half of the book to build up to it anyway. Even knowing the overall trajectory I think I would have preferred something more linear (and with fewer oblique comments about things that don't get full stories, like relationships that ended badly).

Because of this I struggled to figure out the ideal reader for this. Make no mistake; there are a lot of people who will enjoy this. But is the ideal reader someone who (like me) has already been following along and can fill in the mental gaps—but already knows the general story? (This may be the reason for the non-linear structure...) Or is the ideal reader someone who has seen one or two articles or YouTube videos and doesn't have preconceived notions—but will have to look up the salt tram to be able to understand its isolation, or the American Hotel to understand what it once was?

Probably the answer is somewhere in between. I imagine this book will do well (and that it will be popular among those already familiar with the story), in any case—it's a place and a story to attract dreamers.

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I'm a fan of books featuring unknown individuals achieving remarkable feats, and "Ghost Town Living" fits the bill. However, the book could benefit from a thorough edit, as the narrative seemed disjointed and lacked a chronological account of the author's experiences in the Ghost Town. I desired a more structured presentation, detailing the transformation of the Ghost Town season by season and its impact on the author's life. The repetition of certain anecdotes, like the concrete story for the hotel, felt unnecessary and detracted from the overall flow. Despite these criticisms, I devoured the book in a single day, making it a worthwhile read.

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