Bill Steigerwald hit the road on Sept. 23 to follow the 10,000-mile trail blazed by John Steinbeck in the fall of 1960 for his bestseller "Travels With Charley." Bill traveled without a dog and did not camp under the stars. But the former Post-Gazette staffer used the "Charley" book, research from Steinbeck archives and his best drive-by journalism skills to compare the author's actual journey with the one he depicted in his best-selling road book. Steigerwald’s 11,276-mile road trip, which also documented some of the ways the America Steinbeck saw has – or has not – changed, took 43 days and ended Nov. 7.

 RSS: 2.0 | 0.91 | Atom
TwitterLogoOn Twitter

Related Charley Links:

What would Charley think?

Related Steinbeck Links:

The National Steinbeck Center is the most accessible place to enter the fictional and nonfictional world of John Steinbeck, who was 58 when he set off in search of America. Located in Salinas, Calif., Steinbeck's birthplace, the center offers multimedia exhibits and the star Steinbeck relic, Rocinante, the restored truck-camper used for "Travels With Charley,"  the top-selling book in the museum store. The center's archivist will take your questions at the center's Facebook page.

San Jose State University's
Martha Heasley Cox Center for Steinbeck Studies

His books  

His biographers 

His publisher

His movies & TV  

His author son Thom  

His boost from Oprah

“Travels With Charley” on Facebook

“Travels With Steinbeck” by Greg Ziegler  

Time magazine's top 10 nonfiction list

Atlantic Monthly review


About Bill Steigerwald: The oldest member of the Pittsburgh multimedia family that includes his TV sports brothers John and Paul and guitarist Dan, Bill was an editor and writer/reporter 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, and he worked briefly for CBS-TV in Hollywood in the late 1970s. The former Pittsburgh Press paper boy retired from the daily newspaper business in March 2009, hoping to spend the last third of his life writing books.


Travels Without Charley: The route

Click to see an interactive map of the routeSee an interactive map of John Steinbeck's 1960 route, and follow the path Bill Steigerwald took as he retraced it from Sept. 23 to Nov. 7, 2010. Also see: "Travels without Charley/A journalist sets out to retrace John Steinbeck's 1960 trek across America" (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Sept. 19, 2010).
User Rating: / 0


I discovered two important and surprising truths in the fall of 2010 when I retraced the route John Steinbeck took around the country in 1960 and turned into "Travels With Charley in Search of America."

I 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.

And I found out that despite the Great Recession and national headlines dripping with gloom and doom, America was still a big, beautiful, empty, healthy, rich, safe, clean, prosperous and friendly country.

 “Dogging Steinbeck” is the true story of my adventures on and off the road with John Steinbeck’s ghost. It’s about the dozens of good Americans I met and the great places I saw on my high-speed drive from Maine to Monterey along what’s left of the Old Steinbeck Highway.

And it tells how I stumbled onto a literary scoop that forced a major book publisher to finally confess the truth about “Travels With Charley” after 50 years.

Part literary detective story, part travel book, part book review, part primer in drive-by journalism, part commentary on what a libertarian newspaperman thinks is right and wrong about America, my book is subjective as hell. But it’s entirely nonfiction.

"Dogging Steinbeck" is on sale on Amazon.com for $6.99 -- only $2.04 more than what Steinbeck's hardback sold for in 1962. Anyone who's interested in John Steinbeck, the truth about "Travels With Charley" and how much America has changed in the last half century should read it -- and help me recover the costs of my 2.6-year adventure in entrepreneurial journalism.

Bill Steigerwald

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
You must be logged in to post a comment. Please register if you do not have an account yet.


Travels Without Charley: Interactive Map

Click the pins for details about each stop on John Steinbeck's 1960 tour of America.

Google map mashup: Laura Malt Schneiderman

Want to comment?

© 2010 Post-Gazette Publishing Co. All rights reserved. Privacy, usage and commenting policies.
Home | Sports | Arts & Entertainment | Living | News | Opinion | Contact Us | Post-Gazette.com