East of the East Side
Press Release
January 7, 2021

A Slovenian peasant boy, an Austrian musician in Paris, a war refugee, and the Edsel dealer in Butte, Montana–what could they possibly have in common? They were all the same man, Tony Leskovar, one of the protagonists in the much anticipated third book by Christy Leskovar, East of the East Side.

“When my grandfather Tony Leskovar began his music career at the dawn of the 20th century, concert musicians in Austria were treated like movie stars of today,” said Leskovar. “They were idolized. The flags were lowered to half mast in Vienna when an opera star died. And then to be performing with the opera in Paris in 1914–Tony was definitely at the top of his game. It had to be a heady existence for him. It all went to pieces when the First World War started.”

Another part of East of the East Side involves the baron and a maid and a baby named Karolina, the author’s great-grandmother. That part of the book is Downton Abbey-esque but in Vienna and about real people. The story goes on to Joe Lozar who escaped dirt-poor poverty in the southern reaches of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He did what so many others did in his situation in the 19th century–he came to America. These three lives converged in East Helena, Montana. All was on the upswing until Joe became afflicted with gold fever and faced off against one of the most powerful men in the state.

Leskovar traveled to Slovenia and Vienna where she pored through archives and library holdings and visited the places in the book, and she spent a great deal of time at the Montana Historical Society, Butte Archives, World Museum of Mining, and courthouses digging through their records. “Some of the entries in the church books in Slovenia were written in Gothic German, which I don’t read,” she said. “Fortunately I met many helpful people there who did read Gothic and translated for me.”

Her grandfather Tony Leskovar performed with the Butte Mines Band, and he was conductor of the symphony. As for that research, Leskovar said, “Shortly before I began my research someone stumbled across the band records in a building in Uptown Butte and gave them to the Butte Archives. Those were a treasure trove. The historical context helps to understand the people, what they went through, the decisions they made. Had I not come across Will Campbell, the editor of the paper in Helena during the First World War, I might not have understood why some of the women in the story left. At least I think I know why. I describe what happened in the book. Each reader will draw his or her own conclusions. One thing I learned from talking with readers of my first book, though I wrote the book and it’s nonfiction, once someone reads it, the story becomes theirs because each person brings his or her perspective to it.”

East of the East Side is also nonfiction. “Sticking to the facts is more of a challenge and much more time consuming but also more fun,” said Leskovar.

One of many historical gems that she unearthed was an account by the American ambassador in Paris when the First World War broke out. “That’s how I was able to describe what was happening to my grandfather, Tony Leskovar, when he unwittingly became an enemy alien.”

East of the East Side spans the late 19th to mid 20th centuries. The places include peasant farms in the Slovenian region of Austria, Imperial Vienna, 1914 Paris, Montana’s capital Helena, the smelter town of East Helena, the copper metropolis of Butte, the Slavic enclave of East Butte, the Flathead Indian Reservation, San Francisco, and the fertile desert of eastern Washington. “This is such an American story,” says Leskovar, “to go from the Paris opera to the Flathead Indian Reservation with rugged smelter and mining towns in between. I found it fascinating.”

East of the East Side is available in print, e-book, and soon a digital audiobook, as are Christy Leskovar’s first two books, One Night in a Bad Inn and Finding the Bad Inn: Discovering My Family’s Hidden Past. Pictures and maps are exclusive to the print editions.

For more information, visit www.ChristyLeskovar.com All three books are available where books are sold. Booksellers can order from Farcountry Press. sales@farcountrypress.com