The best books on the Reno divorce ranch era (when Reno was the divorce capital of the world)

Who am I?

I’m the co-author of The Divorce Seekers, an intimate glimpse into life on Nevada’s most exclusive divorce ranch, the Flying M E. From 1947-1949, my late husband, William L. “Bill” McGee, was the dude wrangler on the Flying M E, twenty miles south of Reno. We spent four years gathering photos (many from former guests on the ranch or their offspring) and conducting interviews. My book is the only book on the subject written from the perspective of a former divorce ranch wrangler. I’ve become passionate about this subject and, thanks to my work on this book, am now regarded as an “expert” on the Nevada divorce ranch era.


I wrote...

The Divorce Seekers: A Photo Memoir of a Nevada Dude Wrangler

By Sandra V. McGee, William L. McGee,

Book cover of The Divorce Seekers: A Photo Memoir of a Nevada Dude Wrangler

What is my book about?

Reno, 1947. Divorce seekers were running by the thousands to the “Divorce Capital of the World” for a no-fault six-week divorce. If they had the money and the need for privacy, they stayed on a divorce ranch (lingo for a dude ranch that catered to divorce seekers). 

Montana cowboy Bill McGee was the dude wrangler on the Flying M E, an exclusive divorce ranch south of Reno for the wealthy. He entertained socialites with names like Astor and du Pont, and Hollywood movie stars Clark Gable and Ava Gardner. Bill and his co-author/wife Sandra recapture this bygone era in a magazine-style book illustrated with 180 vintage images. Read cover-to-cover or flip through at your leisure.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Reno

Sandra V. McGee Why did I love this book?

Published in 1941, you might have to do a little searching to find this book. Max Miller, a former newspaperman, recaptures the glamour of Reno in its heyday as “Divorce Capital of the World”. The prose is racy and fun.

By Max Miller,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Reno as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"This book is one of a Special Limited Edition printed expressly for and presented with the compliments of the Reno Club, Inc."


Book cover of A Reporter At Large: Dateline: Pyramid Lake, Nevada

Sandra V. McGee Why did I love this book?

In 1949, renowned journalist A. J. Liebling went to Reno for a divorce. He stayed at the remote Pyramid Lake Ranch, thirty-four miles north of Reno at Sutcliffe, Nevada. In what can only be described as “vintage Liebling,” he writes about his stay on the ranch and the challenges of being surrounded by so many women. As Liebling says, “I have never been reluctant to buy a lady a drink, but there were thirty-eight ladies in residence at the ranch, and this offered a problem in economics.” In 1956, Arthur Miller stayed at the Pyramid Lake Ranch for a divorce so he could marry Marilyn Monroe. Miller got the idea for The Misfits during his residency on the ranch.

By A.J. Liebling,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Reporter At Large as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1949, renowned journalist A. J. Liebling came to Reno to obtain a divorce, which required that he establish residency in Nevada for a period of six weeks. Liebling stayed at a guest ranch on the shores of Pyramid Lake. While there, his reporter's curiosity was engaged by a bitter dispute raging between the Paiutes and non-Indian squatters who were claiming the most agriculturally productive lands of the reservation and the waters feeding the lake that was the economic and spiritual heart of the Paiutes' ancient culture.

Liebling recorded the litigation over the fate of the Pyramid Lake Reservation lands…


Book cover of Reno's Big Gamble: Image and Reputation in the Biggest Little City

Sandra V. McGee Why did I love this book?

Besides having the pleasure of being interviewed by the delightful Ms. Barber, she has written an excellent book covering Reno’s history and its current challenge of re-inventing itself now that the town is no longer a destination for easy divorce and gambling.

By Alicia Barber,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Reno's Big Gamble as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When Pittsburgh socialite Laura Corey rolled into Reno, Nevada, in 1905 for a six-month stay, her goal was a divorce from the president of U.S. Steel. Her visit also provided a provocative glimpse into the city's future.With its rugged landscape and rough-edged culture, Reno had little to offer early twentieth-century visitors besides the gambling and prostitution that had remained unregulated since Nevada's silver-mining heyday. But the possibility of easy divorce attracted national media attention, East Coast notables, and Hollywood stars, and soon the 'Reno Cure' was all the rage. Almost overnight, Reno was on the map.Alicia Barber traces the transformation…


Book cover of Reno

Sandra V. McGee Why did I love this book?

As with all of the books in the Images of America series, this book, written by 30-year veteran journalist Guy Clifton, is beautifully illustrated with informative and generous captions. Mr. Clifton’s love for his city and the people who live there is evident. He has met most of the people he writes about, many who allowed him to use images never before published.

By Guy Clifton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Reno as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Reno has always been a small town where big things happen. Long before it adopted the slogan "The Biggest Little City in the World," Reno was visited by presidents, the nation's elite, and those drawn to the city's wide-open, live-and-let live attitude. "The Fight of the Century," between heavyweight boxers Jack Johnson and Jim Jeffries brought Reno worldwide attention in 1910, and the legalization of gambling and liberalization of divorce laws in 1931 made the city a national destination. At the same time, Reno never lost its small-town feel, with generations of families and scores of familiar faces building long-standing…


Book cover of Reno Now and Then

Sandra V. McGee Why did I love this book?

Besides knowing everything about Reno history, Neal Cobb and Jerry Fenwick have carefully photographed and juxtaposed the “now and the then” images of Reno sites and captioned the images in detail. The books (there are two volumes) beckon a walking trip through various neighborhoods, books in hand, comparing the past with the present.

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Book cover of The Twenty: One Woman's Trek Across Corsica on the GR20 Trail

Marianne C. Bohr Author Of The Twenty: One Woman's Trek Across Corsica on the GR20 Trail

New book alert!

Who am I?

I married my high school sweetheart and travel partner, and followed my own advice to do graduate work, and started my career working for the French National Railroad in New York City, mapping itineraries for travelers to Europe. Travel means the world to me and if I don’t have a trip on the horizon, I feel aimless and untethered. I worked in book publishing for 30 years and dropped out of the corporate rat race to take a gap year abroad. I wrote about our “Senior year abroad” in my first book Gap Year Girl. I returned to the US to teach middle school French and organize student trips to France. 

Marianne's book list on by women about outdoor adventure

What is my book about?

Marianne Bohr and her husband, about to turn sixty, are restless for adventure. They decide on an extended, desolate trek across the French island of Corsica — the GR20, Europe’s toughest long-distance footpath — to challenge what it means to grow old. Part travelogue, part buddy story, part memoir, The Twenty is a journey across a rugged island of stunning beauty little known outside Europe.

From a chubby, non-athletic child, Bohr grew into a fit, athletic person with an “I’ll show them” attitude. But hiking GR20 forces her to transform a lifetime of hard-won achievements into acceptance of her body and its limitations.

The difficult journey across a remote island provides the crucible for exploring what it means to be an aging woman in a youth-focused culture, a physically fit person whose limitations are getting the best of her, and the partner of a husband who is growing old with her. More than a hiking tale, this is a moving story infused with humor about hiking, aging, accepting life’s finite journey, and the intimacy of a long-term marriage—set against the breathtaking beauty of Corsica’s rugged countryside.

By Marianne C. Bohr,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Twenty as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Great for fans of: Suzanne Roberts's Almost Somewhere, Juliana Buhring's This Road I Ride.


Marianne Bohr and her husband, about to turn sixty, are restless for adventure. They decide on an extended, desolate trek across the French island of Corsica-the GR20, Europe's toughest long-distance footpath-to challenge what it means to grow old. Part travelogue, part buddy story, part memoir, The Twenty is a journey across a rugged island of stunning beauty little known outside Europe.


From a chubby, non-athletic child, Bohr grew into a fit, athletic person with an "I'll show them" attitude. But hiking The Twenty forces her to…


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