Bio & Contact

Gregory Crouch is an author who specializes in adventurous and historic subjects.

Most recently, he is the author of The Bonanza King: John Mackay and the Battle Over the Greatest Riches in the American West (Scribner, 2018).

Crouch is also the author of the true-life World War II flying adventure China’s Wings (Bantam, 2012) and the mountaineering memoir Enduring Patagonia (Random House, 2001).

A regular book critic, Crouch has reviewed more than 30 books for the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the New York Times Book Review, and NPR Books, among others. He is a member of the National Book Critics Circle. (Links to all of Crouch’s reviews can be found here.)

Crouch has published stories in The Atlantic, National GeographicNational Geographic Adventure, Smithsonian, Time, American History, World War II, Islands, Outside, Popular Mechanics, Backpacker, and many other national and regional media, and dozens of adventure stories for Rock & Ice, AscentAlpinist, and Climbing, where he was a senior contributing editor. He is also the author of Goldline: Stories of Climbing Adventure and Tradition (The Mountaineers, 2001) and Route Finding: Navigating with a Map and Compass (Falcon, 1999).

Crouch and his work have been quoted in the New York TimesNewsweek, the Atlantic, ForbesNautilus, Alpinist, the Washington Post, the South China Morning Post, and by NPR.

In 1988, Gregory Crouch graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, where he studied military history. He completed U.S. Army Airborne and Ranger schools and led two infantry platoons. He left the Army to pursue other interests, most notably in rock and ice climbing and high-stakes international mountaineering. He developed a particular obsession with the storm-swept peaks of Patagonia and made seven expeditions to those remote mountains, where he made a number of world-class first ascents.

Along the way, he became a writer. Crouch’s entire career has been built from following his intellectual and adventurous interests to their absolute conclusions.

With his son, Ryan, and wife, artist Tina Rath, Gregory Crouch lives in Walnut Creek, in the San Francisco Bay Area of California.

     China's Wings     Enduring Patagonia paperback     Goldline     Route Finding

Contact information:




  1. Hi Gregory, I was on the SCP Zoom call last night. As I said your book is remarkable. My ancestor is James Freeborn (1828-1894). James > one of 11 Directors, June 1864 Incorporation. Resigned 1887 when family moved to Paris. Owned Stock brokerages firms 1860-1885 in SF. Underwrote many mining stocks. Likely some Comstock. 1880s Treadwell, AK, largest hard rock gold. Probate $1.5M. Owed 11 commercial downtown buildings. Must have known of JK. Could have been in contact? >> Your book was like moving from b/w photos to a color movie = brought this time to life! Brilliant work. Me = 5th gen. Cal. History- (BA) UCSB (MA) Cambridge U. Written h/c + eBook family history 434 pgs A Freeborn Family History AD 502 – 2019, Re-Discovering Our Lost Stories. Wish to send a private link to this private fam. pub. Not a commercial product. Would like to chat about this period and sources with you sometime?

    1. Excellent! I remember. I was hoping you’d reach out. Great personal connection to the old Comstock Lode. I’d love to see your family publications. (BTW, I grew up in Goleta and my Dad was an econ professor at UCSB.) Cheers, Greg

      1. Hi Greg,
        Thanks for your reply. Again, my email address is Here is a link to my eBook version of A Freeborn Family History AD 502 – 2019, Re-Discovering Our Lost Stories. Most of all it is a communication to my two sons. It was not designed as a public document. Had to publish 2020 version hard copy without final edit due to COVID impacting his business and staff. Currently, creating a new version later this summer. Here is the current eBook link which is on a secure Adobe website. You can review and or download.

        1. Yes, Santa Barbara is a beautiful place. Undergrad 1974-1979. History department was outstanding. Surprising did not take any economics course. Many political science classes. Lived on campus first year, then four years in Isla Vista.

          1. Hi Greg, Yesterday picked up a hard copy of Bonanza King. Audible is fine for listening but lacks images, A Note on Sources, and Index. Would like to chat sometime. Among other areas of interest, looking to better understand the 1865- 1900 SF stock trading market. Have read some sources but not to the detail I am searching for. Also looking forward to the planned Society of California Pioneers 2024 Virginia City.

  2. Good afternoon Mr. Crouch,
    I have just finished reading your book, China’s Wings, attracted to it by my long-term interest in the AVG and a more recent interest in the Consolidated Commodore. Although late to the party, I must say that I found China’s Wings a very well written, informative and exciting read for which I thank you most sincerely. Although (almost) of the era, I had no idea that CNAC played such a major role in development of the Hump airlift and your narrative of that aspect of the Airline’s operation was particularly interesting. Excited by your book, I have managed to acquire a copy of Wings for an Embattled China from which I hope to learn even more.

    1. Thanks for reaching out, Alastair! I’m so glad you enjoyed China’s Wings. Even better to see you’ve followed that on with Bond’s book. Not an inexpensive acquisition, that. One of the most enjoyable aspects of researching that book was meeting and interviewing 3 AVG pilots—Joe Rosbert, Dick Rossi, and Catfish Raine. Also Eric Shilling’s widow, Ilse. What amazing lives they all lived. Cheers! Greg

  3. Dear Gregory,
    Last Spring, I finished reading “The Bonanza King” and I thought that it was brilliant. I’m a Western history buff, so I could appreciate all of the research that you put into it.
    Art Rolf
    Sarasota, Florida.

    1. Dear Art, thanks for reaching out. I’m so happy to read that you enjoyed your time with John Mackay on the old Comstock Lode. Cheers, Greg

  4. How is your Central Valley project coming? You mentioned it a while ago in our emails. Also, did you know a Jeff Boone at West Point?

    1. Lenn! I’ve spun off in a different direction, so not currently in the Central Valley. Booner! Yes. We were good friends at West Point, although I haven’t seen him since. We were both very active in the West Point Mountaineering Club. Awesome guy.

  5. I have always had great interest in the gold rush and history surrounding the western migration in search of gold and silver. To that end i’ve enjoyed many years four wheeling to sites in the sierra that used to be mining sites, camps, or “towns”. I too have spent many days in Virginia City and gone into the Chollar mine. The Bonanza King was a wonderful read I found difficult to put down. It filled in gaps in my Virginia City knowledge I didn’t think would ever get answered. Thank you for a factual account chronicling the Comstock and especially for bringing to light the life of Mr. Mackay.

    1. Dear Larry—Thanks for reaching out. I had a great time researching and writing The Bonanza King, and I’m delighted to hear that you found it hard to put down. (Be sure to tell all your friends about it. ;-) ) Cheers, GC

  6. Greg, I did find one more Bullion cert signed Mackay as president. From my census:

    (on all these documents, after the dates are info on revenue stamps affixed)

    Storey Virginia City 10/20/1869 Nevada 25¢ roulette pale vermilion (D25var) Ditto, #1873; signed Mackay for President; one of four recorded Mackay signatures on stock cert.

    Now here are some pre-Big Bonanza documents you can probably add interesting detail to:

    1. Storey Virginia City 3/31/1868 Nevada 2¢ Single Star imperf x roulette 18? R6c Ms., J. G. Bloomer to J. W. Mackay for telegrams sent to (x73) or from (x50) S.F. in March 1868, as many as 12 per day; stamp T&B separated by tearing with large imperf margins, L straight, appears roul 18.
    What could this blizzard of telegraph messages have concerned? Probably Bullion matters?

    2. Lyon Silver City 4/21/1870 Nevada roulette $1 carmine rose (x4, two with outer lines), 50¢ (x2) (D26, 28a, 29), U.S. R81c (x2), 60c, 59c Deed from James A Rigby and Joseph M. Douglass to W. S. Hobart and J. W. Mackay, for Eastern Slope Mill, adjacent to Silver City on Gold Canõn, bordering Bertola Mill, $5,000. Curiously the stamps are arranged in two groups of $2.50 taxes; the same is true for the accompanying promissory note of Jan 20, 1870, with two groups of $1.25 tax.

    3. Storey [Virginia City] 9/13/1870 Nevada 5¢ roulette strip of three (D23), U.S. R25c, 33c Ms. agreement between, W. S. Hobart and John W. Mackay and James G. Fair. If Hobart pays Mackay and Fair $35,000 by Mar 1, 1871, they will execute a deed to him for one half interest in Woodworth Mill, on 525 acres, Carson River, 1¼ miles above Town of Dayton (see below for this deed). Other provisions included. Signed by all three!

    4. Lyon [Carson River] 9/13/1870 Nevada imperf $5, $10, $20 (D10–12), U.S. R68c (x10, on inside), 89c (x5) Deed to Woodworth Mill, on 525 acres, Carson River above Town of Dayton, W. S. Hobart to John W. Mackay and James G. Fair, $35,000. (Intended as a mortgage to secure payment of $35,000, at rate of 1¼% per month; if paid by Mar 1, 1871, Mackay and Fair shall execute a deed to Hobart for said property.)

    Any comments appreciated! I am enjoying your book!

    Best, Mike

  7. Greg, Just received Bonanza King and looking forward to plunging in. For four-plus decades I’ve been beating the bushes for Nevada documents bearing revenue stamps, a mechanism both the federal and state govts. used to raise $$ in 1863-73. In fact the backstories of these survivors overwhelm the stamp stories. I have written and exhibited extensively in this field. A recent sample :

    Would love to meet if you are in SoCal (I’m in Santa Monica).

    1. Good stuff, Michael. I love those old stock certificates. I do occasionally make it to SoCal. I grew up in Goleta and one of my best friends lives in Santa Monica.

      Hope you enjoy The Bonanza King.

        1. Those are great! I’d have cited them if I’d have been aware of their existence. I especially love the one with both Mackay’s and Walker’s signature. Walker died penniless in SF.

  8. Hi Gregory

    We are Clark County Nevada Genealogy Society in Las Vegas, Nevada. I wanted to know if you would be able to speak to our group about your Book “The Bonanza King”. We meet the 3rd Saturday of each month.


    1. I’d certainly be willing to speak to your crowd, Michelle. The complication would be getting me to Las Vegas, since I live in the Bay Area. Can you help me overcome that obstacle? Thanks for reaching out! Best, Greg

  9. I just finished your extraordinary The Bonanza King, John Mackay…l and wanted to congratulate on your research and fine story telling. I disagreed with Jay Weiser’s shallow review and think you brought Mackay, his friends and adversaries fully to life in great detail. As a native Nevadans and graduates of the University of Nevada in Reno (journalism, l961) we are, of course, knowledgeable about Mackay, Fair, Flood and O’Brien as well as Ellin Mackay Berlin’s Silver Platter novel. But your book presented vast detail we didn’t know and helped us learn more about all these characters as genuine people. I am a life long journalist and we live in our native Reno but also have had an apartment at 2200 Pacific a window view across to one of the Flood mansions, now the Hamlin school, on Broadway, for the last 33 years in San Francisco. My wife and I are at our apartment today and tomorrow 10/14, 15/18 at 415 400 5111 and driving home to Reno Tuesday 10/15/18 775 322 8400. I would love to visit you by phone about your fine book. All the best. Warren Lerude. PS: Please note our J School website Exciting things there. I have written Nevada author Bob Laxalt’s, biography, Robert Laxalt, the Story of a Storyteller, UNR Basque Studies Press, 2013 and a couple other things. All best, Warren

  10. Need images you have for Live From the Library shoot we did last night for WCTV. Maybe you can stick them in a drop box and email me the invite.
    I am using my personal email due to limited space on city site.

  11. Gregory,

    Thank you so much for the MacKay book!! You have brought the story of his life together into one book and it’s a wonderful read. You must feel very proud to be the principal biographer of such a remarkable, and important person. Late 19th century SF/CA/NV history always takes second place to the Gold Rush. Yet, it is so exciting and so impactful, even today. Thank you so much. I listened to your book on Audible and will pick up a hardcopy soon.

    For several years, I’ve been working on a biography for a person you are likely to have knowledge of – Johnny Skae, another prominent Comstock person. I also have significant information on a less well-known person from that time, but an important figure in western mining history – Walter E. Dean. I don’t doubt that you recognize the names of both guys. They are closely connected to the Bonanza firm and those times. Skae was something of an independent operator in the mold of Jones and Hayward and Dean was a principal mine manager for the Bank Ring. Both Skae and Dean were also business associates of Fair, Flood, MacKay and O’Brien, principally through the water company, but also in other Comstock endeavors. Skae died in 1885. Dean later hit it big in Tombstone and remained a contemporary of Fair and MacKay throughout their lives. He died in 1925. The life stories of Dean and Skae are not nearly as dramatic as MacKay’s, but they are nonetheless great human-interest stories.

    So, you can imagine I’m really interested in hearing what you might know about these two guys and their relationships with MacKay. For instance, what do you think MacKay would have personally thought of Skae and his Sierra Nevada Deal? And, was Dean the guy in New York that MacKay attended the opera with, after the death of his son? I would love to find first-hand accounts of Skae and Dean. Do you know of any? Did Theresa Fair keep a diary? Sorry to pelt you with all these questions!

    Thank you for pulling MacKay’s story together. If it’s possible, I’m sure he’s very pleased!!

    Bill (from Pleasanton)

    1. Bill! So glad that you enjoyed THE BONANZA KING! Yes, I do have references to Skae and, to a lesser extent, Dean. I’m happy to share them with you. Fire me an email at and we’ll figure out the logistics.

  12. Hello Gregory Crouch,

    I wish to thank you for the for the book, “The Bonanza King” I have received via you
    from my daughter Ellen. It is most kind of you to do this for Ellen. It is again an honor to receive the book from her signed by you. I really enjoyed “China’s Wings” also from her through you. Can’t wait for the next one on Patagonia. Continued in all your successes.

    Paul H

    1. Thank you, Paul! I was delighted to do it for her (and you). I’m so glad to hear that you enjoyed CHINA’S WINGS, and I hope THE BONANZA KING is equally pleasurable. Cheers, GC

  13. Greg – awesome website. Gwen and I wanted to say hi and let you know when your travels take you out east, you are welcome to take on the surf here in NC. I recently retired after almost 28 years and Gwen has been out since 2010 and is now doing well as a A-E firm president. I am now a HS teacher!. In any event, we have a nice pad with a room for you if you want to tackle the waves of Wrightsville Beach and all that Wilmington has to offer. All the best, brother. NTTG!

    1. Steve! How nice to hear from you. Thanks for reaching out. Psyched to hear that you and Gwen are doing well. I’ll definitely take you up on that surfing invitation if I ever find myself out that way again. Glad you liked the website–now I’ve just gotta get you to read my books. God knows, I need readers. ;-) NTTG, GC

  14. Any chance to get an autographed copy of your book China’s Wings? My dad would have loved a copy but sadly he has passed away now! He was a great aviation buff and good friends with Doc Rich!

  15. hi greg do you remember mick dempsey, The Nose 1993? still at it kinda hope you are,best wishes.

    1. Hell yes I remember Mick! That was one of my great climbing adventures — we had a great time together, both on the Nose and through that whole season in the Valley. How’s the old reprobate doing? Strangely, I just spoke to Scooter, the third guy on the climb, for the first time in a decade last week. I still do climb, although not as often – or as well – as I used to. I’ve done much more surfing these last ten years.

      Give Mick my best — I still talk about his stroke of genius loading a bottle of Jamison into the haul bag. Made the climb.

      Cheers, Greg

  16. Gregory-
    On a recent trip to Shanghai, I brought along China’s Wings to help re- create the excitement and the ambiance of 1930s China. It was a compelling read on both the complexities and the protocol necessary to permit the the birth of civil aviation in China, and in your description of events leading up to the outbreak of war with Japan. It made my trip all the more memorable. Bravo!

    1. Thanks, Mark! Great to hear that China’s Wings served well in Shanghai. Thanks for checking in. cheers, Greg

      1. Gregory, Was your mother by any chance Janet Crouch? If so she was my son’s second grade teacher in Santa Barbara.

        1. Mark, she sure was! Glad to hear she taught your son — she sure loved that school. Cheers, GC

    1. Thanks, Dina… sometime soon I’m going to be blogging about our ride to and from our 20th high school reunion, and me being reluctant to believe your husband could possibly be connected to flying in China in the 1930s…. a serendipitous connection that still boggles my mind.

    2. Dina is right. The website is cool, Greg. Nice to see your talent reflected on the Web. And thx for using my dad’s photos and crediting him. Congrats!

      1. Technically, Ed, aren’t those your grandfather’s photos? But you’re all Edward P. Howards anyway, right? Sometime soon, I’m going to post those two beautiful pen & ink drawings he did, and I’ll be trickling out most of those photographs in the months to come. Crazy connection. What’re the chances?

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