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Sierra Stories: Tales of Dreamers, Schemers, Bigots, and Rogues

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by Gary Noy
Foreword by Malcolm Margolin

Uncovering the hidden history of the Sierra

Sierra Stories book coverThe Sierra Nevada, with its 14,000-foot granite mountains, crystalline lakes, conifer forests, and hidden valleys, has long been the domain of dreams, attracting the heroic and the delusional, the best of humanity and the worst. Stories abound, and characters emerge so outlandish and outrageous that they have to be real.

Could the human imagination have invented someone like Eliza Gilbert? Born in Limerick, Ireland, in 1818, she transformed herself into Lola Montez, born in Seville, Spain, in 1823, and brought to the Gold Country the provocative “Spider Dance”—impersonating a young woman repelling a legion of angry spiders under her petticoats.

Or Otto Esche, who in 1860 imported fifteen two-humped Bactrian camels from Asia to transport goods to the mines. Or the artist Albert Bierstadt, whose paintings Mark Twain characterized as having “more the atmosphere of Kingdom-Come than of California.”

Or multimillionaire George Whittell Jr., who was frequently spotted driving around Lake Tahoe in a luxurious convertible with his pet lion in the front seat. These, and scores more, spill out of the pages of this well-illustrated and lively tribute to the Sierra by a native son.

Co-published by Heyday Books and Sierra College Press
Paperback, 5.5 x 8.5, 272 pages, with 65 black-and-white photographs, ISBN: 978-1-59714-265-6
April 2014
Paperback, $17, eBook, $8.99
Book Trailer – YouTube – link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SnGowA4HsIA

Gary NoyA Sierra Nevada native, Gary Noy has taught history at Sierra Community College in Rocklin, California, from 1987 to the present.

Born in Grass Valley, Gary is a graduate of UC Berkeley and CSU Sacramento.

Gary is the founder and former director of the Sierra College Center for Sierra Nevada Studies and Editor-in-Chief emeritus of the Sierra College Press.

In 2005, Gary was selected as Sierra College Instructor of the Year.

In 2006, the Oregon-California Trails Association (OCTA), a national historical society, selected Gary as “Educator of the Year.”

Gary is the author of many newspaper columns and magazine articles on Sierra Nevada history and culture, for such publications as the Grass Valley Union and Sierra Heritage magazine.

Gary is the author of the best-selling Distant Horizon: Documents from the 19th Century American West (University of Nebraska, 1999) and co-editor, with Rick Heide, of The Illuminated Landscape: A Sierra Nevada Anthology (Heyday Books, Sierra College Press and Santa Clara University, 2010).

Gary was an editor for the award-winning Standing Guard: Telling Our Stories (Sierra College, 2002).

Gary’s newest book is Sierra Stories: Tales of Dreamers, Schemers, Bigots and Rogues (Heyday Books and Sierra College Press, 2014).

Now semi-retired, Gary continues to volunteer for a number of Sierra College historical and cultural projects.

For more information, visit www.garynoy.com

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