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Book Details

Virginia City

To Dance with the Devil

Where else but in Virginia City could a penniless Irish miner in a few short years amass a fortune greater than any of America’s robber barons, simply by dint of hard work and intuition, and remain a humble, caring human being? Here as well Mark Twain discovered and honed his comic voice, and notorious badman Sam Brown was lined with lead, with a coroner’s jury concluding, “It served him right.” Here also Julia Bulette, a kindly harlot beloved of the city’s firemen, was the toast of a rowdy Fourth of July parade. In Virginia City mines, men plunged into the scalding, hazardous heart of the earth, tantamount to partnering with hell’s dread demon, so that they could enjoy five Shakespeare companies performing at once, food rivaling Delmonico’s in New York, and frocks ordered directly from Paris that could be worn in this barren, windswept middle of nowhere. Virginia City’s twenty turbulent bonanza years—what a time it was!

About the Author

Nicholas Clapp

Award-winning documentary filmmaker and author Nicholas Clapp has studied, filmed, and written the deserts of the world. With a master's degree in cinema from the University of Southern California, his first professional break came when he produced and directed The Great Mojave Desert, a one-hour special for CBS and the National Geographic Society. He has won over 70 major film awards for his documentary work.

As an author, his distinguished previous publications include The Road to Ubar: Finding the Atlantis of the Sands and Sheba: Through the Desert in Search of the Legendary Queen. His interest in the Queen of Sheba drew him to the story of the Queen of Sheba Mine in Death Valley and to its mining engineer, leading to his last work, Who Killed Chester Pray? It was while researching for this book that Clapp discovered the many rare photographs of America's Last Frontier. With the detailed eye of a cinematographer, Clapp has noted the most exacting details in each of the photographs selected for this book a final look at life on this Last Frontier.