Virginia City vs. Bonanza: A Tale of Merging Histories

by Monette L Bebow Reinhard (Author)

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

Book Description:​


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, and into many parts of the world. 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 televisionand history alike.

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Bebow-Reinhard is quite the fan of the long-running Western television series Bonanza (1959–73). She has a deep appreciation for the series' themes, characters, historical significance, and impact on Virginia City, which was a focal point of the show. But this is not a Bonanza episode guide, nor a making-of book: this is a story about the real history that served as a backdrop for the series. The author’s goal is to show how Bonanza and other television Westerns changed the way we remember the American West of the 1800s, and how Bonanza specifically rescued the real life Virginia City, which started out as a silver-mining boomtown in the late 1850s, from becoming a ghost town a hundred years later.…Her writing style is highly engaging thanks to her expertise and her passion. Recommended to fans of American history, and to fans of Bonanza. , ― Booklist Virginia City vs Bonanza: A Tale of Merging Histories is a fun piece of creative nonfiction. Monette Bebow-Reinhard’s conversational style of writing is an easy read that entwines historical fact with beloved fictional mid-century television. Bonanza and Nevada history aficionados should certainly enjoy the read. -- Louise Swann, former "Bonanza" conventions director and former owner of Lorne Greene’s Ponderosa II Having read and reread Monette's enjoyable book, and, as a recognized history fanatic of Virginia City as well as a Bonanza fan, I am comfortable with the comparative studies that have been made between the "Bonanza history" and the as-accurate-as-possible history of the Comstock. It is a fun and factual book to read for both Bonanza fans and those that seek the more accurate history of Virginia City. The Bonanza version of Virginia City history had direct impact on the revival of Virginia City as a vibrant and fun tourist community. The actual history of Virginia City, rife with a fair bit of folklore yet seeded with bits of the real history is even more exciting than the TV version. The comparisons made in Monette's book of Bonanza versus Virginia City history is fun to read. It gets you excited about both sides and satisfies the Bonanza fan as well as the Virginia City fan. -- Joe Curtis, Virginia City historian

Monette L Bebow Reinhard (Author)

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1.Authorized Bonanza Novels: Monette wrote two authorized Bonanza novels: “The Felling of the Sons” and “Mystic Fire.” A third novel is available for free download on her website, and a fourth can be obtained by contacting her directly. Her nonfiction book, “Virginia City Vs. Bonanza: A Tale of Merging Histories,” is being released by Rowman & Littlefield. 2.Academic Pursuits: She earned her Master’s degree in history from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Her master’s thesis, titled “Bloody Peace,” is now part of her first major nonfiction in 2nd edition: “Civil War & Bloody Peace: Following Orders.” Monette’s academic interests extend to archaeology, as evidenced by her presentations on pre-contact copper artifact manuals at the Society of American Archaeologists. 3.Nonfiction Works: Monette has authored several nonfiction books, including: “Civil War & Bloody Peace: Following Orders” ( second edition published in 2019). “From Lincoln to Trump” (published in 2020, with a third edition planned). Copper resources manuals include Michigan, Illinois, Northern Wisconsin, and The Four Corners of NM, CO, AZ & Utah, with the Updated Copper Bell Survey. 4.Fiction and Film: Her novel “Adventures in Death & Romance” (formerly published by Solstice) is now marketed as a trilogy under the title “Journal of an Undead.” The first book in this trilogy, “Love Stories,” is a rewrite of the original Solstice version. She has also republished former publisher adaptations of “Saving Boone” and “Grimms American Fairy Tales.” Monette’s creative talents extend beyond writing; she is also a commercial and film actress and writes movie scripts and plays. Community Involvement: 5.Monette actively contributes to her community: Former volunteer with the arts, she’s now passionate about her work with the Red Cross. She’s dedicated to Wisconsin but raised through adventurous children who are out into the world. Monette Bebow-Reinhard’s diverse contributions to literature, history, and the arts showcase her passion and dedication. 📚🎭🌟

Virginia City vs. Bonanza: A Tale of Merging Histories

Bebow-Reinhard is quite the fan of the long-running Western television series Bonanza (1959–73). She has a deep appreciation for the series' themes, characters, historical significance, and impact on Virginia City, which was a focal point of the show. But this is not a Bonanza episode guide, nor a making-of book: this is a story about the real history that served as a backdrop for the series. The author’s goal is to show how Bonanza and other television Westerns changed the way we remember the American West of the 1800s, and how Bonanza specifically rescued the real life Virginia City, which started out as a silver-mining boomtown in the late 1850s, from becoming a ghost town a hundred years later.…Her writing style is highly engaging thanks to her expertise and her passion. Recommended to fans of American history, and to fans of Bonanza. , ― Booklist Virginia City vs Bonanza: A Tale of Merging Histories is a fun piece of creative nonfiction. Monette Bebow-Reinhard’s conversational style of writing is an easy read that entwines historical fact with beloved fictional mid-century television. Bonanza and Nevada history aficionados should certainly enjoy the read. -- Louise Swann, former "Bonanza" conventions director and former owner of Lorne Greene’s Ponderosa II Having read and reread Monette's enjoyable book, and, as a recognized history fanatic of Virginia City as well as a Bonanza fan, I am comfortable with the comparative studies that have been made between the "Bonanza history" and the as-accurate-as-possible history of the Comstock. It is a fun and factual book to read for both Bonanza fans and those that seek the more accurate history of Virginia City. The Bonanza version of Virginia City history had direct impact on the revival of Virginia City as a vibrant and fun tourist community. The actual history of Virginia City, rife with a fair bit of folklore yet seeded with bits of the real history is even more exciting than the TV version. The comparisons made in Monette's book of Bonanza versus Virginia City history is fun to read. It gets you excited about both sides and satisfies the Bonanza fan as well as the Virginia City fan. -- Joe Curtis, Virginia City historian

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