Description - Virginia City vs Bonanza: A Tale of Merging Histories by Monette Bebow-Reinhard

A fun and informative exploration of how the classic television series Bonanza differs from the reality of Virginia City, Nevada.

In 1959, one hundred years after the big bonanza silver strike in Virginia City, the classic television series Bonanza made its debut and brought the small Nevada city to the forefront of households around the country. The richest city in the world at the time of the Comstock Lode, Virginia City today might well be a ghost town if not for the fame spurred by Bonanza. The show was so popular that it went on to air for thirteen years and even spawned a theme park.

Historical accuracy was of great import to Bonanza’s creator, but as the series evolved, it took on a life of its own beyond the boundaries of real-life Virginia City. In Virginia City vs Bonanza: A Tale of Merging Histories, Monette Bebow-Reinhard explores select history from the show’s legendary storylines and compares it to the real history of nineteenth-century Virginia City. Readers will learn why gambling is so prominent in Nevada, how Virginia City was not necessarily developed as a cattle town, and much more, ultimately understanding how and where Bonanza got its history right.

Through her analysis of history versus fiction, Bebow-Reinhard emphasizes the impact television had on shaping how we remember the Old West. From the beginnings on Sun Mountain to the new technology created for Virginia City’s mines to keep up with the demands of the labor force—hungry for more wealth—Virginia City vs Bonanza examines the politics, the environmental damage, and the social and cultural settings that made Virginia City unique. Readers will witness it all: silver’s inevitable collapse, the advent of tourism, the natives, the diversity, the violence, and today, the fun. A must-read for fans of television and history alike.

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