Sun City West resident and prize-winning author Steve Wiegand will talk about his latest book, “1876 – Year of the Gun,” and sign copies, 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 11, at Changing Hands Bookstore, 300 W. Camelback Road.
Wiegand’s talk will also be filmed for national broadcast on C-Span’s Book TV channel. Admission is free.
In “1876 – Year of the Gun,” journalist and history writer Wiegand introduces or re-introduces readers to lawmen such as Bat Masterson and Wyatt Earp and outlaws such as the Younger and James Brothers, as well as larger-than-life figures such as Buffalo Bill and George Custer. He details the stories of these real-life legends, the aftermath and legacies they left behind and the innumerable myths frequently attributed to them.
Juxtaposing their real lives with the often-outlandish accounts of their exploits, “1876” swings from lighthearted humor to cliff-hanger suspense. It also portrays how the Wild West’s initial, tantalizing promise of fame and glamour often disintegrated.
But “1876” also offers readers a unique element noticeably absent from most Wild West books: historical context. Wiegand expands his contemporary spotlight on America’s 100th birthday year to encompass what was going on in the rest of the country. On the very same day George Armstrong Custer was dying on a parched hill in southeastern Montana and immortalizing himself as both hero and villain, Alexander Graham Bell was at America’s first World’s Fair in Philadelphia, demonstrating his new invention--the telephone. At the same time Wyatt Earp was moseying into Dodge City to join the town’s police force, Albert Goodwill Spalding was on a pitcher’s mound in Chicago, establishing baseball as the national pastime and creating a sporting goods empire. And even as the James Boys and Younger Brothers were robbing banks, Democrats and Republicans were conspiring to steal the White House from the American voter. This book brings them all together in one place.
Wiegand’s 35-year journalism career was spent at the at the San Diego Evening Tribune, where he was chief political writer; San Francisco Chronicle, where he was state capitol bureau chief; and Sacramento Bee, where he was a special projects writer and politics columnist. He is the author, co-author or contributing author of nine books, including “The Dancer, the Dreamers and the Queen of Romania”; “U.S. History for Dummies”; the “Mental Floss History of the World”; “The American Revolution for Dummies”; and “Lessons from the Great Depression for Dummies”.
He enjoys playing poker and the harmonica, although usually not at the same time.