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Dogging Steinbeck: How I went in search of John Steinbeck's America, found my own America, and exposed the truth about 'Travels With Charley' Paperback – December 14, 2012


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (December 14, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1481078763
  • ISBN-13: 978-1481078764
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #958,279 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Bill Steigerwald is a veteran journalist from Pittsburgh who worked as an editor and writer/reporter/columnist for the Los Angeles Times in the 1980s, the Post-Gazette in the 1990s and the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review in the 2000s. His interviews and libertarian op-ed columns were nationally syndicated for about five years at CagleCartoons.com, and he worked briefly for CBS-TV in Hollywood in the late 1970s. Steigerwald's freelance articles, interviews and commentaries have appeared in many of the major newspapers in the USA and in magazines like Reason, Penthouse and Family Circle. He retired from the daily newspaper business in March 2009. He and his wife Trudi live south of Pittsburgh in the woods.

Customer Reviews

Finally, you admit to having not learned a "blessed thing" about yourself.
A. Olmsted
Some of his points are valid, but clearly his dislike of Steinbeck caused him to be overly harsh.
Daniel L DePietropaolo
Mr. Steigerwald had to write as he found and I thought he did an excellent job in doing so.
w. mccracken

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on February 25, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I remember enjoying Travels with Charley many years ago so I was intrigued when I learned of Dogging Steinbeck in which the author, Bill Steigerwald, follows Steinbeck's famous cross-country route fifty years later. Before reading Dogging Steinbeck, I took the time to read Travels with Charley again immediately before starting Steigerwald’s book.

I enjoyed Dogging Steinbeck very much and admire Steigerwald for his efforts in making and recording his own journey. The day by day observations of the seasonal weather, the local characters and conditions he encountered, and the frequent comparisons to Steinbeck’s own journey to rediscover America made interesting reading. It's soon became apparent, however, that his experiences and extensive Steinbeck research created considerable doubt about the accuracy of Charley. Indeed, Steigerwald offers convincing evidence that Steinbeck's beloved classic was more a work of fiction than a trip journal.

One of the great pleasures in reading Steigerwald’s book was that he found so many friendly and interesting people in his travels. Certainly the mass media does not spend much time reporting about nice people; the weirdos, extremists, uberwealthy, instant celebrities, and truly dangerous are far more likely to be in the news. It was nice to read that the vast majority of average Americans were still pleasant and helpful to a traveling stranger. I was also pleased to be repeatedly reminded of the many ways that our daily lives have immeasurably improved over the past five decades. It happens that I grew up in a small town on old Route 66 (which figures in both books) so I have personal knowledge of just how dangerous those highways were 50 years ago.
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43 of 51 people found the following review helpful By ERP on February 21, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The original premise of this book is fine: follow Steinbeck's route in Travels with Charley as closely as possible and report on how things had changed in America. Steigerwald deserves credit for his efforts and for taking time to conduct extensive background checks. Unfortunately, the book strays too often into Steigewald's libertarian political views which grow tiresome and do not, in my mind, add to the story. The book could have used some serious editing - wordy and repetitive in many parts. This would have been a better magazine article than a full-length book. This is one book that I couldn't wait to get finished with, for all the wrong reasons. My advice: there are other more worthy books to spend your money on.
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59 of 73 people found the following review helpful By Bob Hoffmann on April 30, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Steigerwald sets out to re-trace Steinbeck's famous 1960 trek "In Search of America", and along the way to describe how he had "exposed the truth about 'Travels with Charley'", as the subtitle suggests. His first introductory paragraph mentions that he "... found out the great author's iconic "nonfiction" road book was a deceptive, dishonest and highly fictionalized account of his actual 10,000-mile road trip." Although he provides a disclaimer that "my book is subjective as hell. But it's entirely nonfiction. True Nonfiction." So what is "subjective non-fiction", anyway?

While Steigerwald claims that Steinbeck's work "...was not a travelogue, not a serious work of journalism and, as I soon realized, it was not an accurate, full or reliable account of his actual road trip", he might have taken some time to put a rear-view mirror to his own work, to recognize that he was observing his own "journalistic" work through a pair of thickly-tinted red, libertarian glasses. In between his researched and verified "facts" about Steinbeck's actual movements, he inserts slants, biases, and attacks from his own rightist POV against the Nobelist's admittedly Democratic affiliations. His focus on "The Truth" denies Steinbeck any "narrative license" to the original story, repetitively implying that if a particular detail isn't fully accurate, then it must fully be a lie. My understanding, as a reader of journalistic products, is that "news" and "research" is not so simply bifurcated, and it is the writer's role to illuminate the shadings between the real and the fantasy.

Having been raised along the Missouri River divide in North Dakota, I was proud to read Steinbeck's descriptions of my prairie homeland when the book first appeared in the early Sixties.
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58 of 72 people found the following review helpful By A. Olmsted on March 23, 2013
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At the end Bill, you wrote a 100% subjective and assumptive book, that you've marketed as fact, about following an author you don't like, whose views you can't stand, around a country whose laws you hate, and whose leaders you distrust. You claim situations or people didn't exist simply because you don't think they did, even as you confirm more truths, than falsehoods you reveal. Finally, you admit to having not learned a "blessed thing" about yourself. After 10,000 miles? Nothing? Steinbeck may or may not have found what he set out to find about his country, may have felt his journey a failure, but he most certainly learned about himself. And he told us so, warts and all. That's why the book still sells.
If you were the audience, which journey would you rather read? Just like Life of Pi, he wrote a great story, partly verifiable but uniquely his. There is also the boring version, the entirely factual one. I personally prefer the version with the tiger.

(hint: two million+ readers have already voted)

Btw- the "abrupt, unsatisfying" end to Charley is, to millions of fans, perfect.
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More About the Author

Bill Steigerwald is a veteran journalist from Pittsburgh. Before he retraced John Steinbeck's "Travels With Charley" road trip of 1960 and wrote "Dogging Steinbeck," he worked as an editor and writer/reporter/columnist for the Los Angeles Times in the 1980s, the Post-Gazette in the 1990s and the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review in the 2000s. His interviews and libertarian op-ed columns were nationally syndicated for about five years at CagleCartoons.com, and he worked briefly for CBS-TV in Hollywood in the late 1970s. Steigerwald's freelance articles, interviews and commentaries have appeared in many of the major newspapers in the USA and in magazines like Reason, Penthouse and Family Circle. He retired from the daily newspaper business in March 2009. He and his wife Trudi live south of Pittsburgh in the woods.

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