Yes, it all really happened. I invented no incidents; it’s important to me that you know that. Which isn’t to say that every word is 100% literally true. Here’s what isn’t:

I almost certainly got the order wrong. As I write this, the events in Riding the Cyclone took place between forty and fifty years ago. Getting the exact order of hundreds of incidents correct after so long is asking too much of human memory. And I admit that I took advantage of this ambiguity to organize each chapter as tightly as I could. For example, I’m pretty sure my brother took me to Ayn Rand’s lecture in 8th grade (’66-’67) rather than 7th (’65-’66). But it fit better in 7th, so there it is.

Also, although I invented no scenes, I invented details, such as the color of a shirt, required to make the scene vivid. Likewise, the words a character speaks are almost certainly not exact quotes (except in a few cases), but they are true to the meaning. I invented dialogue, yes—but no remarks; much less conversations.

My thanks to my brother Carl and my cousins, who graciously gave me permission to use their real names. Other than that, I’ve changed the names of all children (anyone who appears in the book under the age of eighteen), except for one whose identity can’t be concealed and another who’s now known by a different name. (In that case, I use the old name by permission.)

I’ve used real first names for all adults except a few who are still alive and traceable; their names have been changed to protect their privacy. For simplicity, a couple of neighbors are composites. Surnames, when given, have been changed, except my own. Also that creep’s, Freddie Lopez.