Ronald James, Monumental Lies Reading & Signing

Please join us for a reading and signing with Ronald James, whose new book Monumental Lies: Early Nevada Folklore of the Wild West will be published on September 19th from the University of Nevada Press.

Monumental Lies: Early Nevada Folklore of the Wild West invites readers to explore how legends and traditions emerged during the first decades following the “Rush to Washoe,” which transformed the Nevada Territory after in 1859. During this Wild West period, there was widespread celebration of deceit, manifesting in tall tales, burlesque lies, practical jokes, and journalistic hoaxes. Humor was central, and practitioners easily found themselves scorned if they failed to be adequately funny.

The tens of thousands of people who came to the West, attracted by gold and silver mining, brought distinct cultural legacies. The interaction of diverse perspectives, even while new stories and traditions coalesced, was a complex process. Author Ronald M. James addresses how the fluidity of the region affected new expressions of folklore as they took root.

The wildly popular Mark Twain is often a go-to source for collections of early tall tales of this region, but his interaction with local traditions was specific and narrow. More importantly, William Wright—publishing as Dan De Quille—arose as a key collector of legends, a counterpart of early European folklorists. With a bedrock understanding of what unfolded in the nineteenth century, James considers how these early stories helped shaped the culture of the Wild West.


Ronald M. James was the long-serving Nevada state historic preservation officer, administering the agency for three decades and retiring in 2012. He was also appointed to the advisory board for the National Park System and served as chair of the National Historic Landmarks Committee. He is the author of The Roar and the Silence: A History of Virginia City and the Comstock Lode and several other books about the American West. In 2014, James was inducted into the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame.

Event date: 
Friday, September 29, 2023 - 6:00pm
Event address: 
121 California Avenue
Reno, NV 89509
Monumental Lies: Early Nevada Folklore of the Wild West (Shepperson Series in Nevada History) By Ronald M. James Cover Image
ISBN: 9781647791162
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: University of Nevada Press - September 19th, 2023