It's not always easy to learn the "truth". Accepting the "truth" can even be harder sometimes. However, when good evidence is given that your belief is wrong, you have to.
I ran across Dogging Steinbeck: How I went in search of John Steinbeck's America, found my own America, and exposed the truth about 'Travels With Charley' by Bill Steigerwald quite by accident when I was searching Amazon for another Steinbeck book.
I read the description from Amazon and decided to give it a read as I am a big Travels with Charley in Search of America and road trip fan from way back.
Bill Steigerwald basically decided to recreate the trip from Travels exactly 50 years later in 2010 to discover how America had changed and also to as accurately as possible follow in Steinbeck's tire tracks. If you have read Travel you know that Steinbeck met a cast of characters, and traveled across America in a truck with a camper shell with his French Poodle Charley. I've read the book several times, listened to it on audible, and basically considered it a road-trip classic along the lines of Blue Highways by William Least Heat Moon.
Honestly, what I never really thought about was how accurate a description of the trip was it.
As Steigerwald mentions, the book has always been sold as "Non-Fiction" so I basically assumed it was telling "the truth". Of course, I realize in many travel or other non-fiction books things are changed to protect identities, or to even make the story move along better. This occurs in any book and is accepted.
So how much of Travels is real?
I suggest you pick up a copy of Steigerwald's book and find out for yourself. The author has done the research (including seeing the first draft of the Travels book in NYC) and then driven the miles in a RAV4 to prove it out.
I know I'll never look at "Non-Fiction" travel writing the same way again.
Be sure to check out Steigerwald's great blog at http://truthaboutcharley.com/