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Dogging Steinbeck: Discovering America and Exposing the Truth about 'Travels With Charley' by [Steigerwald, Bill]
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Length: 280 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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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.

Product Details

  • File Size: 4900 KB
  • Print Length: 280 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Fifty Fifty Books (January 16, 2014)
  • Publication Date: January 16, 2014
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00A6X9ZR0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #480,887 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By David Bratman on December 28, 2014
Format: Paperback
Retired reporter decides to re-create John Steinbeck's cross-country journey from Travels with Charley 50 years later. In the course of his pre-travel research, and then more fully when he actually takes the trip, Steigerwald determines that Steinbeck's book is - he doesn't mince words here - a "fraud."

My goodness! What did Steinbeck do to earn so stern a denunciation? Did he not actually take the trip at all? That's what "fraud" would mean to me. No, he took it, and he went where he said he did. Already the claim looks over-the-top. Are many of his conversations with locals fictionalized? Probably yes, but Steigerwald acknowledges that Steinbeck scholarship has suspected that for a long time; it's not the blinding revelation that Steigerwald claims it is.

You have to get to the end of Dogging Steinbeck to discover the answer as to what bugs Steigerwald so. The problem is that Steigerwald had this image in his head of Steinbeck driving all around the country without a break, with no-one but his dog for company, sleeping every night in his lonely camper by the side of the road.

But Steigerwald has been cruelly disillusioned. Steinbeck took breaks for visits with relatives. He also stayed over in a couple big-city hotels, and spent some nights on the road in motels. He had his wife with him for one leg of the journey, and a friend for another.

That does take away from the purity of the experience, but that also means that Steigerwald wasn't paying much attention to Travels when he formed that image, though he does make a close, accurate reading of the book here. Steinbeck actually mentions three of those breaks in Travels, though he minimized them and left others out. He mentions staying in motels.
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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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I recently read Steinbeck's "Travels with Charley" and enjoyed great writing and memorable observations on almost every page. I decided to follow up with Steigerwald's book, because I was interested in more background information about Steinbeck and the trip. Steigerwald provides useful details Steinbeck's actual itinerary, letters written and stops along the way, the original manuscript of Steinbeck's book, and material removed during editing. However, an ex-journalist, Steigerwald clearly wants to have a STORY himself. He seizes on every factual discrepancy between Steinbeck's trip and Steinbeck's written book, and blows them up into an endlessly repeated assessment that Steinbeck's book is a fraud and a pack of lies, and that Steinbeck and his publisher have unethically duped the public with the unethical claim that Travels with Charley is non-fiction. He also goes to great length to chronicle his own battles with Steinbeck scholars and book reviewers, building to congratulatory notes from his 93 year old mother and his own proud assessment that he has somehow discovered a great scandal and eternally changed the Steinbeck field. Steigerwald's writing is so overwrought, filled with needless political asides, and self-promoting that I could hardly wait for his book to end. I think one if it's main virtues is that it dramatically illustrates why the original Travels with Charley is a great book. Steinbeck was a great writer, and the beauty of his writing shines from nearly every page of Travels with Charley. Steigerwald is not a great writer, and his needless vitriol rather than his great insights sadly shine out from nearly every page of Dogging Steinbeck.
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