Discovering Steinbeck's fictions & lies in "Charley" was an accident, but I was the perfect guy to do the job. I'm a veteran newspaper and magazine journalist born and raised in Pittsburgh. I was 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. My interviews and libertarian op-ed columns were nationally syndicated for about five years at CagleCartoons.com, and I worked briefly for CBS-TV in Hollywood in the late 1970s. My 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. I retired from the daily newspaper business in March 2009. "Dogging Steinbeck" is my first book.
Bill Steigerwald had a brilliant plan for showing how much America has changed in the last half century -- or so he thought. He’d simply retrace the 10,000-mile route John Steinbeck took around the USA in 1960 for his beloved bestseller “Travels With Charley.” Then he’d compare the America he saw with the country Steinbeck described in his classic road book. But when the intrepid ex-newspaperman from Pittsburgh started researching Steinbeck’s trip he uncovered a shocking literary scoop. Steinbeck’s iconic nonfiction book was a fraud. “Travels With Charley” was not just full of fiction. It was a deceptive and dishonest account of the great novelist’s actual road trip. Steigerwald made his own road trip in the fall of 2010, exactly 50 years after Steinbeck did. Chasing and fact-checking Steinbeck’s ghost for 11,276 miles and 43 days, meeting hundreds of ordinary Americans, often sleeping in the back of his car in Wal-Mart parking lots, he drove from Maine to California to Texas. Despite the Great Recession and national headlines dripping with gloom and doom, Steigerwald discovered an America along the Steinbeck Highway that was big, empty, rich, safe, clean, prosperous and friendly. He didn’t just reaffirm his faith in America to withstand the long train of abuse from Washington and Wall Street, however. He also exposed the half-century-old myths of “Travels With Charley,” ruffled the PhDs of the country’s top Steinbeck scholars and forced “Charley’s” publisher to finally tell the truth. Steigerwald is a well-traveled reporter and veteran libertarian columnist. With the spirit of a teenage driver, a dogged pursuit of the facts and a refreshing point of view about America proudly located in the heart of Flyover Country not Manhattan, he spins the story of his ride with Steinbeck’s ghost into a provocative, news-making and entertaining American road book.