In the Media

In the Media

Portrait of a Prospector: Edward Schieffelin’s Own Story Wins National Recognition!

My most recent book was officially named as “Finalist” in Utah State University’s Mountain West Center’s prestigious Evan’s Handcart Award competition. Now in its 35th year, the Evans Biography Award, recognizes the best of research and writing in biographies, autobiographies, and memoirs that focus on the stories of people who have shaped the character of the American West.

THE STORY BEHIND THE WRITING OF THE BOOK . . . Portrait of a Prospector was unique in the competition in that broke with tradition in historical writing: it does not fall comfortably in either the category of “biography” or “autobiography,” rather, the work is perhaps best described as a “constructed autobiography.”

The central figure in this first-person narrative is Edward Schieffelin – the discoverer of the famed Arizona Tombstone silver lode in 1877 and a towering figure who epitomized the American frontiersman of the 19th century American West.  Schieffelin, however, never wrote an autobiography though he did leave behind a journal of his adventures in the American West.  Also left for posterity were several oral history interviews conducted in the 1890s by famed historian Herbert Howe Bancroft.  I married the two types of primary resources documents into a cohesive narrative using only Scheiffelin’s own words. In essence what I fashioned is the autobiography that perhaps Schieffelin himself would have written had he lived long enough to do so! In collecting the words of an exceptional figure who embodied the western frontier, this book offers readers insight into the mentality of prospector-adventurers during an age of adventure and discovery.

EDWARD SCHIEFFEIN’S OWN STORY. . .   Edward “Ed” Schieffelin (1847–1897) was the epitome of the American frontiersman. A former Indian scout, he discovered what would become known as the legendary Tombstone, Arizona, silver lode in 1877. His search for wealth followed a path well-trod by thousands who journeyed west in the mid to late nineteenth century to try their luck in mining country. But unlike typical prospectors who spent decades futilely panning for gold, Schieffelin led an epic life of wealth and adventure. This book pieces together the colorful memoirs and oral histories of this singular individual to tell Schieffelin’s story in his own words.

The book begins with a brief engaging introduction that places the prospector’s family background and times into context. In the first chapter Schieffelin’s begins to tell of his first prospecting attempts at ten years old, and his flight from home at twelve to search for gold. In subsequent chapters Schieffelin chronicles his wanderings in California, Nevada and Utah. He tells of his adventures in the wilderness, dealing with the forces of nature; he recounts a tale of a fateful prospecting trip up the Colorado River into the Grand Canyon, his encounters with Apaches and tells the tale of the Mountain Meadows “massacre” as related to him by an eye-witness to the event. In direct, unsentimental prose, he then describes his expeditions into Arizona Territory, where army scouts assured him that he would find no gold, but rather, “his own tombstone.”

Unlike many prospectors who simply panned for gold, after laying claim to several silver mines, Schieffelin took on wealthy partners who invested the enormous funds needed for hard rock mining. When he and his brothers and co-investors in the Tombstone claim sold out, they became millionaires.

But Schieffelin was ever a born prospector. Restless in his newfound life of wealth and leisure, he soon returned to exploration. Among his various adventures he mounted an expedition up Alaska’s Yukon River in search of gold. While he returned to San Francisco emptyhanded and declared to reporters that he wished “no more of Alaska,” he subsequently again took up a pick and shovel and once again journeyed through the American West in search of “rich diggings.” Schieffelin’s heart gave out while prospecting in Oregon leaving behind a mystery that generations of amateur prospectors have yet to solve – that is, the location of Ed Schieffelin’s famed lost “Red Blanket Mine.”

The book is an easy read for the general reader and students.  Only 115 pages long it is ideal as an introductory text for undergraduate students in an American history survey class or an introductory course in the history of the American West.

AUTHOR RADIO INTERVIEW Want to learn a bit more?….Listen to my interview with CBC Radio 1 “Island Morning” host Laura Chapin (broadcast of July 31, 2018) – it provides some additional background about the writing of this book and the mystery behind Schiefflein’s famed lost Red Blanket Mine.

 

“The Apprenticeship of Alger Hiss” available through Now and Then Reader! (October 2013)

“The Apprenticeship of Alger Hiss” is an adaptation from R. BruceCraig’s forthcoming biography, The Lives of Alger Hiss, now available in a digital format from Now and Then Reader.

Now and Then Reader publishes original short form nonfiction for Kindle Singles, Apple Quick Reads, Kobo Books Short Reads and Barnes and Noble Nook Books. Now and Then Reader concentrates on writings that are historically based but also have relevance for present day events with a focus on American History and European History.

Read about this recent release:

In 1948, Whittaker Chambers, a moon-faced Time magazine editor and former courier for the Soviet underground, accused Alger Hiss, a distinguished former State Department official and at the time the patrician head of the Carnegie Foundation for International Peace, of having been a secret Communist in the 1930s. Chambers soon expanded his allegation to include espionage. The resulting two perjury trials of Alger Hiss and the emergence of the “Hiss-Chambers controversy,” as it came to be called, rocked America, soon transfixing and eventually transforming a nation, and becoming a symbol of the U.S. struggle with domestic and worldwide communism. The following story of Hiss’s early years is adapted from the forthcoming book The Lives of Alger Hiss by R. Bruce Craig. It is the first full-scale biography of Hiss written since his death in 1996 to draw not only from once-secret KGB files but, more important, from previously untapped Hiss family papers. These papers and other fresh sources offer telling insights into the life of one of the most important yet enigmatic figures of the twentieth century.

 

“Historiography of Soviet Espionage in America,” a program aired by C-SPAN on 22 June 2011

A panel of historians and professors examined the effects that Soviet spies had on the American public’s mentality and on history itself. They also looked at the lives of some Soviet spies, most notably those involved in the Rosenberg case. The panelists responded to questions from members of the audience. Mr. Holland moderated.

“The Rosenberg Case and the Historiography of Soviet Espionage in America” was a panel of the conference “The Rosenberg Case, Soviet Espionage, and the Cold War,” sponsored by the Harvard Project on Cold War Studies and George Washington University Elliott School of International Affairs.

“President Truman and Civil Liberties,” a program aired by C-SPAN on 14 May 2011

Panelists talked about the tension between national security and civil liberties during the Truman administration, focusing on the Alger Hiss case and the president’s relations with Japanese Americans.

R. Bruce Craig presented his paper “The Hiss Case.” Lynne Joiner, broadcast journalist and documentary filmmaker, presented her paper,”Truman’s Loyalty Review Board and the Honorable Survivor.” Roger Daniels presented his paper, “Harry Truman and the Japanese Americans.” Raymond Geselbracht chaired.

“Victims” was a panel of the 2011 Symposium, “The Civil Liberties Legacy of Harry S. Truman.” It was held at the Key West Marriott Beachside Hotel.

Treasonable Doubt: The Harry Dexter White Spy Case, a book discussion at the International Spy Museum in Washington, DC.  Program aired on C-SPAN on 15 July 2004

Mr. Craig delivers a presentation on his book, Treasonable Doubt: The Harry Dexter White Spy Case, published by University Press of Kansas. Mr. Craig examines the layers of accusations placed against Harry Dexter White, who at one time, served as a high-ranking Treasury official in the United States and was accused of espionage. The author notes that Mr. White’s alleged involvement in policy subversion and policy espionage during the Cold War, was neither proved nor disproved. These accusations, however, served as a constant source of controversy during Mr. White’s involvement with the U.S. Treasury Department, from 1935-1948. Following his illustrated remarks, Mr. Craig answers questions from members of the audience.

WATCH…
The archived broadcast book launch presentation of 15 July 2004 from the International Spy Museum in Washington D.C. which summarizes key findings; the C-SPAN book discussion is found at the following video source: