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Remembering Will Bagley (Part 5 of 5)

We lost Will Bagley Sept 28, 2021, due to complications from a stroke.  As we end 2021, we’ll look back at our 2020 interview where he talks about Juanita Brooks, some of his awards, and his reasons for writing history.

Will:  Okay. This is what will probably be my next to last book. I’m still working on another book. But this is called River Fever: Adventures on the Mississippi 1969 to 1972. That is a miracle picture, because the end of the book happens very quickly after that. It’s about what it was like to be young in the late 60s and early 70s. I really am delighted that Signature Books decided to publish it. But it hasn’t sold any copies at all. So if you really want to know the inside story on Will Bagley, this is it. Besides that, there is an afterword where I actually deal with Mountain Meadows.

GT:  Oh!

Will:  This is also a story of how I wanted to recreate the 19th century and experience history.

Will:  “Many who write history are seeking some version of immortality. We hope our names will live as long as books endure. We see the limits of being human all around. But we are creatures who cannot comprehend huge numbers, let alone eternity. Being a parent or grandparent is as close to heaven as any of us deserve, so a foolish desire to live forever merely confirms, what an Old Testament existentialist wrote several thousand years ago. Vanity of vanities, all is vanity. As with all my friends who do creative work, when the job is done, all you see are its flaws. I joke about retiring after my work is done. But making books is all I ever wanted to do. I expect to keep doing it until I can do it no more. I’m still dreaming and hoping those dreams come true. When I told an old drunken Osceola “I am Huck Finn”. I wasn’t kidding.

GT:  [chuckles]

Will:  “I still am.”

Will:  It’s cheap, too. All my other books cost quite a bit. But you get this book for less than 20 bucks.

What are your thoughts on Will Bagley?  Check out our conversation….

Remembering Will Bagley (Part 5 of 5)
Will Bagley passed away in 2021.

Here is our entire interview with Will.

452: Bear River Massacre

451: Kingdom of the West

450: Trials of Lee/Forgery

449: MMM Cover Up

448: John D. Lee’s Role in Massacre

447: Bagley Critiques Turley

446: Buchanan & George Smith’s Role in MMM

445: Handcart Disasters & Mormon Reformation

444: Will Bagley on Juanita Brooks

More Podcasts with these Interviewees


People Interviewed: Will Bagley
People in LDS History: Mormon History