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Life on the Mississippi - Mark Twain [ Hardcover First Edition & Illustrated Classics - Wordsworth Classics ] (ANNOTATED)

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"A work of Mark Twain. This ebook contains the original content. A river memoir documenting Twain’s early days as an apprentice steamboat pilot on the Mississippi River before the American Civil War. Reminiscing about his happy experiences as a young man under the instruction of an experienced mentor, the autobiographical tale depicts one of the most vivid illustrations "A work of Mark Twain. This ebook contains the original content. A river memoir documenting Twain’s early days as an apprentice steamboat pilot on the Mississippi River before the American Civil War. Reminiscing about his happy experiences as a young man under the instruction of an experienced mentor, the autobiographical tale depicts one of the most vivid illustrations of river life. Furthermore, the book captures the author’s nostalgic emotions through his resonant depiction of one of the most notable periods of his life. Twain begins his memoir with a rich historical account of the Mississippi River including its exploration by early explorers, its evolution, and its vastness. He then proceeds to tell of his youthful experiences along the river, and its significant role in his life from early childhood right up to adulthood. Subsequently, the classic focuses on Twain’s time as a cub-pilot on a steamboat and the incidents that occur during his apprenticeship. Never depicting a dull moment, the author mentions various characters and encounters which further enrich the tale as he navigates along the river. Written from a personal point of view, the story offers insight as the audience is exposed to a different angle of river life through an enchanting travel log. He vibrantly describes the beauties of the Mississippi River with its twists, shallows, rapids, turns and landmarks, consequently bringing life to the river. In the second part of the book, however, Twain describes a different experience on the Mississippi River, conveying the harsh reality of progress as he travels along the river years later. In addition the book presents opposing images of a bucolic setting not yet altered by the inescapable grasp of industrialization, and the image of the consequences instigated by industrialization and automation. A stunning blend of autobiography, history and tall tales, the book has much to offer to its audience, and also includes humorous appendixes and commentaries. A well comprised piece of writing, Life on the Mississippi is full of imagery and descriptive language that portrays the beauty of nature, culture and heritage. Exploring themes such as inevitable change and progress in society, gratification gained from the simplicity of nature, and the deceptiveness of outward appearance, the book is a timeless classic portraying an important part of American history. Enjoy the full story!"


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"A work of Mark Twain. This ebook contains the original content. A river memoir documenting Twain’s early days as an apprentice steamboat pilot on the Mississippi River before the American Civil War. Reminiscing about his happy experiences as a young man under the instruction of an experienced mentor, the autobiographical tale depicts one of the most vivid illustrations "A work of Mark Twain. This ebook contains the original content. A river memoir documenting Twain’s early days as an apprentice steamboat pilot on the Mississippi River before the American Civil War. Reminiscing about his happy experiences as a young man under the instruction of an experienced mentor, the autobiographical tale depicts one of the most vivid illustrations of river life. Furthermore, the book captures the author’s nostalgic emotions through his resonant depiction of one of the most notable periods of his life. Twain begins his memoir with a rich historical account of the Mississippi River including its exploration by early explorers, its evolution, and its vastness. He then proceeds to tell of his youthful experiences along the river, and its significant role in his life from early childhood right up to adulthood. Subsequently, the classic focuses on Twain’s time as a cub-pilot on a steamboat and the incidents that occur during his apprenticeship. Never depicting a dull moment, the author mentions various characters and encounters which further enrich the tale as he navigates along the river. Written from a personal point of view, the story offers insight as the audience is exposed to a different angle of river life through an enchanting travel log. He vibrantly describes the beauties of the Mississippi River with its twists, shallows, rapids, turns and landmarks, consequently bringing life to the river. In the second part of the book, however, Twain describes a different experience on the Mississippi River, conveying the harsh reality of progress as he travels along the river years later. In addition the book presents opposing images of a bucolic setting not yet altered by the inescapable grasp of industrialization, and the image of the consequences instigated by industrialization and automation. A stunning blend of autobiography, history and tall tales, the book has much to offer to its audience, and also includes humorous appendixes and commentaries. A well comprised piece of writing, Life on the Mississippi is full of imagery and descriptive language that portrays the beauty of nature, culture and heritage. Exploring themes such as inevitable change and progress in society, gratification gained from the simplicity of nature, and the deceptiveness of outward appearance, the book is a timeless classic portraying an important part of American history. Enjoy the full story!"

30 review for Life on the Mississippi - Mark Twain [ Hardcover First Edition & Illustrated Classics - Wordsworth Classics ] (ANNOTATED)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Bill Kerwin

    I first read this book fifty years ago when I was in high school, and I recalled Twain's account of his days as a Mississippi steamboat pilot's apprentice as a work of great humor and style with quintessentially American themes, equal in power to Huckleberry Finn. A recent re-reading has left me both gratified and disappointed: gratified because Twain's history and description of the ever-changing Mississippi and his account of his life as a young river pilot are just good as I remembered them, I first read this book fifty years ago when I was in high school, and I recalled Twain's account of his days as a Mississippi steamboat pilot's apprentice as a work of great humor and style with quintessentially American themes, equal in power to Huckleberry Finn. A recent re-reading has left me both gratified and disappointed: gratified because Twain's history and description of the ever-changing Mississippi and his account of his life as a young river pilot are just good as I remembered them, but disappointed because this account occupies only the first third of the book. The other two-thirds has moments of equal power--Twain's account of his return to his boyhood home Hannibal, for example--but most of it is a casually organized travelogue of a trip up the Mississippi by the fifty-year-old Twain, interrupted by random anecdotes and tall tales. This second two-thirds is uneven but entertaining, full of characteristic Twain humor; it is as good as "Roughing It," a book I like and admire. Nevertheless, it nowhere equals the power of the first hundred pages. And a book the ends worse than it began is always a disappointment.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    Life on the Mississippi, Mark Twain Life on the Mississippi (1883) is a memoir by Mark Twain of his days as a steamboat pilot on the Mississippi River before the American Civil War, and also a travel book, recounting his trip along the Mississippi River from St. Louis to New Orleans many years after the War. The book begins with a brief history of the river as reported by Europeans and Americans, beginning with the Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto in 1542. It continues with anecdotes of Twain's Life on the Mississippi, Mark Twain Life on the Mississippi (1883) is a memoir by Mark Twain of his days as a steamboat pilot on the Mississippi River before the American Civil War, and also a travel book, recounting his trip along the Mississippi River from St. Louis to New Orleans many years after the War. The book begins with a brief history of the river as reported by Europeans and Americans, beginning with the Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto in 1542. It continues with anecdotes of Twain's training as a steamboat pilot, as the 'cub' (apprentice) of an experienced pilot, Horace E. Bixby. He describes, with great affection, the science of navigating the ever-changing Mississippi River in a section that was first published in 1876, entitled "Old Times on the Mississippi". Although Twain was actually 21 when he began his training, he uses artistic license to make himself seem somewhat younger, referring to himself as a "fledgling" and a "boy" who "ran away from home" to seek his fortune on the river, and playing up his own callowness and naivete. In the second half, Twain narrates his trip many years later on a steamboat from St. Louis to New Orleans. He describes the competition from railroads, and the new, large cities, and adds his observations on greed, gullibility, tragedy, and bad architecture. He also tells some stories that are most likely tall tales. عنوانها: زندگی بر روی می سی سی پی؛ زندگی روی میسی سی پی؛ نویسنده: مارک تواین؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: ماه فوریه سال 1982 میلادی عنوان: زندگی بر روی می سی سی پی؛ نویسنده: مارک تواین؛ مترجم: ابوالقاسم حالت؛ چاپ اول در 574 ص؛ آخرین چاپ، امیرکبیر، 1380؛ در 596 ص؛ شابک: 9643030407؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان ایالات متحده آمریکا - سده 19 م عنوان: زندگی روی میسی سی پی؛ نویسنده: مارک تواین؛ مترجم: کیومرث پارسای؛ تهران، ناژ، 1390؛ در 624 ض؛ شابک 9789649109784؛ بخشی از زندگی «مارک تواین» است، و داستانهایش بسیار شوخ و خنده دار هستند. زندگی بر روی می.سی.سی.پی. در حقیقت، بخشی از زندگی نویسنده ی اثر است. ایشان در این کتاب داستان، حکایت، لطیفه و نکته های تازه، خنده دار و بانمک آورده اند، که خوانشگر در پایان کتاب شگفت زده، از خویش میپرسد: آیا نویسنده قصد داشته شرحی از زندگی در کناره ی آن رودخانه ی شگفت به دست دهد، یا آن که داستان پردازی خود را از مسائل انسانی به نمایش بگذارد؟؛ ا. شربیانی

  3. 4 out of 5

    Lyn

    Life on the Mississippi by Mark Twain was first published in 1883 and describes his apprenticeship and success as a Mississippi River pilot and then returning to the river more than twenty years later. At its heart this is a travel book, but really more than that this is a portrait of America in the 19th century. Told with Twain’s inimitable wit and charm, this contains histrionic and speculative facts, half-truths, wild exaggerations and tall tales. Written by anyone else, this would have been Life on the Mississippi by Mark Twain was first published in 1883 and describes his apprenticeship and success as a Mississippi River pilot and then returning to the river more than twenty years later. At its heart this is a travel book, but really more than that this is a portrait of America in the 19th century. Told with Twain’s inimitable wit and charm, this contains histrionic and speculative facts, half-truths, wild exaggerations and tall tales. Written by anyone else, this would have been unsuccessful, Twain makes it thoroughly enjoyable. I have wanted to read Life on the Mississippi for over twenty years. Once upon a time I was a young Coast Guardsman assigned to work on the Mississippi River aboard a buoy tender, a vessel tasked with maintaining aids to navigation on the navigable interior waterways. Our home station was Hickman, Kentucky, a once proud but antiquated river town in extreme southwestern Kentucky. I recall cornfields and the river and little else. Twain, writing about the river over a hundred years earlier than when I was there described St. Louis, Cape Girardeau, MO, Cairo, Il, New Madrid and Hickman, KY (he called it a pretty little town) – and even the aids to navigations on the river! He saw the river before and after the advent of the aids to navigation and he remarked that the buoy and lights system diminished the romance of being a pilot.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Teresa

    So often my reading seems to unintentionally reflect upon itself. I’ve been doing a very slow read of the Michael Slater biography of Dickens and had finished the account of his first American tour when I started this after a friend asked me to read it with her. Almost immediately I encountered a mention of Dickens and then references to two earlier British travel writers, Captain Marryat and Captain Basil Hall. Dickens read the works of the two captains in preparation for his own trip to the So often my reading seems to unintentionally reflect upon itself. I’ve been doing a very slow read of the Michael Slater biography of Dickens and had finished the account of his first American tour when I started this after a friend asked me to read it with her. Almost immediately I encountered a mention of Dickens and then references to two earlier British travel writers, Captain Marryat and Captain Basil Hall. Dickens read the works of the two captains in preparation for his own trip to the U.S. And Mark Twain must’ve read the three in preparation for this work. So perhaps that’s why I thought of calling my review A Tale of Two Halves: certainly this holds “the best of times” and “the worst of times” for Twain, encompassing both personal triumph (though spoken of self-deprecatingly) and personal tragedy. In the book’s first half Twain relates an entertaining history of the river; his love for the river starting from his time as a young boy in Hannibal, Missouri; and, most famously, his experiences as a very young man as a cub pilot on a steamboat. In the second half he describes his return to the river after the war, again on a steamboat but as a passenger; the changes to the steamboat industry; and the towns and cities he passes and visits on the river, from St. Louis to New Orleans to Minneapolis, including a stop in Hannibal. Interspersed are facts, tales, anecdotes and legends, told with hyperbole, humor, wit, and irony— in short, everything we’ve come to associate with Mark Twain. I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised by several beautiful (though never sentimental) passages. As I wrote in a comment to a friend (and thank you to another friend for telling me how much he liked the comment): It's a meandering read, but that's ok, it's like a river.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jan-Maat

    Back in the day before pesky child labour laws stole the liberty of a hard dreaming child to go forth and make their way in the world, running the risk of boiler explosions, sinking paddle-steamers, and night time collisions. Young Samuel Clemens worked his way up to the dizzying heights of river pilot, stole another pilot's nom de plume, "Mark Twain!" was a depth reading to help the pilot not to run the ship aground and so was well on his way to becoming a writer. He reflects at one a moment Back in the day before pesky child labour laws stole the liberty of a hard dreaming child to go forth and make their way in the world, running the risk of boiler explosions, sinking paddle-steamers, and night time collisions. Young Samuel Clemens worked his way up to the dizzying heights of river pilot, stole another pilot's nom de plume, "Mark Twain!" was a depth reading to help the pilot not to run the ship aground and so was well on his way to becoming a writer. He reflects at one a moment when a traveller looks out over the Mississippi at night and drinks in the romance of the scene, contrasted with how Twain, as a trainee river pilot, sees the river, in his vision every branch on the water to the level of the river is something to be read in order to steer the boat safely - when he started the river was a river, after learning the river was not a river, later he understood again that the river was a river!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Roy Lotz

    And, mind you, emotions are among the toughest things in the world to manufacture out of whole cloth; it is easier to manufacture seven facts than one emotion. This is an awkward book to review, since it consists of so many, varied sections. Yet it can be neatly divided between the first third and the remaining portion. After a few brief chapters about the mighty river and its history, the beginning section focuses on Twain’s young days as a steersman aboard Mississippi River steamboats. These And, mind you, emotions are among the toughest things in the world to manufacture out of whole cloth; it is easier to manufacture seven facts than one emotion. This is an awkward book to review, since it consists of so many, varied sections. Yet it can be neatly divided between the first third and the remaining portion. After a few brief chapters about the mighty river and its history, the beginning section focuses on Twain’s young days as a steersman aboard Mississippi River steamboats. These are easily the best pages. As evinced by the Huckleberry Finn stories, Twain had a marvelous way of writing from a child’s perspective, naively learning to navigate the world. What is more, Twain does an excellent job in illustrating the extensive knowledge necessary to effectively pilot a steamboat—memorizing hundreds of landmarks, learning how to gauge speed and depth, and dealing with difficult coworkers. The second section is a meandering account of a voyage he took two decades after leaving the steamboat business, when he was an accomplished author. At this point he was already so famous he had to adopt a pseudonym. Here he pauses so often to lose himself in tributary wanderings that the narrative breaks down into a vaguely connected series of anecdotes, most of which seem obviously inflated or simply fictional. Though there is much to amuse in this section, I found myself growing increasingly restless and bored as I continued on, eager for the end. Though I did not dislike this book as much as I did A Connecticut Yankee, I nevertheless felt that the joke had gone stale and that Twain was merely filling up space. My reactions to Twain tend to shift violently. Again, in the beginning section of this work, when he is writing from the perspective of his younger self, his writing is energetic and witty and wide-eyed. But when he dons the cap of a raconteur, I tend to find his stories mechanical and dull. His account of the Pilots’ Association is an excellent example of this—proceeding in predictable steps to the inevitable conclusion. And when he shifts away from humor, the results can be pretty grim. His flat-footed tall tale of the man who sought revenge for his murdered family—a mix of the ghoulish and the sentimental—is an excellent example of this. Even with these faults and lapses, this book is an unforgettable portrait of a time and place that are gone for good, written by an indefatigably mordant pen.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Aaron

    Twain on the river as a kid. Twain back on the river again as a sneaky pete writer. I wanted to like this book, which is why, I suppose, I hung in for 350-odd pages before setting it aside. The book is entertaining intermittantly and occasionally sharp and funny but it meanders. I should probably have my keyboard revoked for using the word 'meander' in a review about a book about a river, but clearly I can't help myself. Seriously, tho, Twain needed an editor with a heavy hand for this one.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl

    Life on the Mississippi by Mark Twain I'm so very glad I read this. I've been meaning to read more by Twain for decades of course, but my move to Missouri motivated me enough to finally choose this one. I thought it might be a bit of a task, leavened by some history and some wit. It was the reverse. Lots of wit, lots of history, very accessible prose (only a few bits of slang were unfamiliar, and only a few sentences were structured in such a way that I had trouble following them), and almost no Life on the Mississippi by Mark Twain I'm so very glad I read this. I've been meaning to read more by Twain for decades of course, but my move to Missouri motivated me enough to finally choose this one. I thought it might be a bit of a task, leavened by some history and some wit. It was the reverse. Lots of wit, lots of history, very accessible prose (only a few bits of slang were unfamiliar, and only a few sentences were structured in such a way that I had trouble following them), and almost no aspects of the onerous a'tall. I marked far too many passages, as you see below. But there were lots more that I was tempted to mark. I recommend you read this yourself, and find your own favorite bits! “For instance, when the Missisippi was first seen by a white man... Margaret of Navarre was writing the “Heptamaron” and some religious books,--the first survives, the others are forgotten, wit and indelicacy being sometimes better literature-preservers than holiness.” “La Salle set up a cross with the arms of France on it, and took possession of the whole country for the king—the cool fashion of the time—while the priest spiously consecrated the robbery with a hymn.” “Between La Salle's opening of the river and the time [when it begun to be well-used], seven sovereigns had occupied the throne of England.... Truly, there were snails in those days.” On the steamboats arriving in town, “... great volumes of the blackest smoke are rolling and tumbling out of the chimneys—a husbanded grandeur created with a bit of pitch pine...” “There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.” I need to learn about Murel, of Murel's Gang, an evil genius who should be more infamous than he is, given Clemens' lurid but calmly told account. Mr. H. warns Clemens of another man, “I will not deceive you;he told me such a monstrous lie once, that it swelled my left ear up, and spread it around so that I was not actually able to see around it...” A survivor of the siege of Vicksburg reveals that even the kinds of stress that the civilians there underwent became, effectively, commonplace, after those several weeks, but does also say, “Mule meat? No, we only got down to that the last day or two. Of course it was good; anything is good when you are starving.” “... a general conversation which began with talk about horses, drifted into talk about astronomy, then into talk about the lynching about the gamblers in Vicksburg half a century ago, then into talk about dreams and superstitions; and ended, after midnight, in a dispute over free trade and protection “I hope to be cremated. I made that remark to my pastor once, who said, with what he seemed to think was an impressive manner,--”I wouldn't worry about that, if I had your chances.” Much he knew about it—the family also opposed to it.” I want to adopt the New Orleans custom of lagniappe, as in “Give me something for lagniappe.” (pronounced 'lanny-yap' and meaning something akin to baker's dozen) “Then comes Sir Walter Scott with his enchantments, and by his single might checks this wave of progress, and even turns it back; sets the world in love with dreams and phantoms; with decayed and swinish forms of religion; with decayed and degraded systems of government; with the sillinesses and emptynesses, sham grandeurs, sham gauds, and sham chivalries of a brainless and worthless long-vanished society. He did measureless harm, more real and lasting harm, perhaps, than any other individual that ever wrote.” “A curious exemplification of the power of a single book for good or harm is shown in the effects wrought by Don Quixote and those wrought by Ivanhoe. The first swept the world's admiration for the mediaeval chivalry-silliness out of existence; and the other restored it.” He noted the effect of the new steamboats' feature on wildlife at night, as they “suddenly inundated the trees with the intense sunburst of the electric light, a certain curious effect was always produced: hundreds of birds flocked instantly out from the masses of shining green foliage and went careering hither and thither through the white rays, and often a song-bird turned up and fell to singing. We judged that they mistoook this superb artificial day for the genuine article.” Clemens admired manufactured ice. “These big blocks were hard, solid, and crystal-clear. In certain of them, big bouquets of fresh and brilliant tropical flowers had been frozen-in; in others, beautiful silken-clad French dolls, and other pretty objects. These blocks were to be set on end in a platter, in the center of dinner-tables, to cool the tropical air; and also to be ornamental, for the flowers and things imprisoned in them could be seen as through plate glass.” I highly recommend it. Not as much as I recommend the audiobook of Huck Finn as narrated by Patrick Fraley, but more than I recommend Roughing It. I will continue to read more Twain; maybe The Prince and the Pauper or The Innocents Abroad next.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Dan

    Life on the Mississippi is like a time capsule as Twain revisits many of his earlier haunts and remarks on how the towns have changed. The book is equal parts travelogue, history, nostalgia and yarns. I really love this book even though it was written some 130 years ago. Twain exhibits his characteristic wit throughout the book but he is more often wistful. I feel that Twain exhibits a great intuition for when his audience might be getting bored with the subject at hand and he is able to quickly Life on the Mississippi is like a time capsule as Twain revisits many of his earlier haunts and remarks on how the towns have changed. The book is equal parts travelogue, history, nostalgia and yarns. I really love this book even though it was written some 130 years ago. Twain exhibits his characteristic wit throughout the book but he is more often wistful. I feel that Twain exhibits a great intuition for when his audience might be getting bored with the subject at hand and he is able to quickly wrap it up and advance the story forward. I am not a fan of Twain novels, such as "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court", that may focus heavily on comedy and the absurd. This type of humor seems very dated in retrospect. But this book "Life on the Mississippi" and also "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" are some of the best books ever written. The sentimentality and humanity still hold up well upon re-reading.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Christopher

    What I wish: Oh!, to live my life as a steamboat captain on the Mississippi in the nineteenth century of the year of our Lord! How I'm living: Alas!, to have been born in Kentucky in the 1980s! WIW: To float down the Mississippi, smoking a corn cob pipe, piratical, unruly, and barbarous! HIL: Sitting at a desk, cultivating carpal tunnel as a professional button pusher and microwaving leftovers for lunch. WIW: To take my turn at the helm, dodging rocks and aiming for smaller crafts, yelling out What I wish: Oh!, to live my life as a steamboat captain on the Mississippi in the nineteenth century of the year of our Lord! How I'm living: Alas!, to have been born in Kentucky in the 1980s! WIW: To float down the Mississippi, smoking a corn cob pipe, piratical, unruly, and barbarous! HIL: Sitting at a desk, cultivating carpal tunnel as a professional button pusher and microwaving leftovers for lunch. WIW: To take my turn at the helm, dodging rocks and aiming for smaller crafts, yelling out "quarter twain! half twain! quarter less ta-ree!" HIL: Still sitting at my desk, still pressing buttons, yelling out "grrrrr! you stupid computer, why are you so slow!"

  11. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Silveyra

    I didn't finish this book - I stopped around page 220 in my edition. As much as I love Mark Twain, and as much as he can write...the book is about a river. The first few chapters are about Twain's days as an apprentice steamboat pilot, and they are interesting and fun to to read. After them, however, begin a series of chapters regarding how the towns on the Mississippi have changed, what European travelers of old said of them, what the different prices of shipping through rail or train were, and I didn't finish this book - I stopped around page 220 in my edition. As much as I love Mark Twain, and as much as he can write...the book is about a river. The first few chapters are about Twain's days as an apprentice steamboat pilot, and they are interesting and fun to to read. After them, however, begin a series of chapters regarding how the towns on the Mississippi have changed, what European travelers of old said of them, what the different prices of shipping through rail or train were, and in general a lot of researched facts about an area in the US from the late 19th century. If this is your cup of tea, then have at it. I was looking for entertainment. What is painful about setting this book aside is that, interspersed with the minutiae about the river itself are great "yarns" that Twain picked up from fellow travelers. Those are riveting and well written, but too few and far in between to really endure.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Nancy

    Memoir, travel, history, humor, fiction served up in deceptively folksy prose (which is in fact as sharp as it is funny) to evoke the 19th century Mississippi in all its glory and heartbreak. Admittedly there were a few too many tall tales for my taste or they went on too long, yarns not being my favorite reading, but I concede their necessity in creating the larger truth here. Evocative and endlessly gripping and droll.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Nandakishore Varma

    I have a love-hate relationship with this book. When I read it originally in my schooldays, I couldn't digest half of it. When I read it subsequently as an adult, I loved the steamboat experience but hated the patently untruthful yarns and the rather long-winded expositions. I will rate Mark Twain's fiction above his factual prose anytime.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Greta Nettleton

    Another book I've read over and over--It's free on Kindle in the old edition, which is fun to read because of its authentic touches. America's 1880s are my current decade of choice, having spent years mired in research about the period, and Life on the Mississippi captures the rapid change in this country that took place after the Civil War, as it changed from a land of bucolic wilderness filled with independent workingmen to one of safer, duller regulated organized industrialization and Another book I've read over and over--It's free on Kindle in the old edition, which is fun to read because of its authentic touches. America's 1880s are my current decade of choice, having spent years mired in research about the period, and Life on the Mississippi captures the rapid change in this country that took place after the Civil War, as it changed from a land of bucolic wilderness filled with independent workingmen to one of safer, duller regulated organized industrialization and automation. Twain, who grew up among Southerners in Missouri, can't resist skewering his former slave-owning fellow citizens, but reports vividly about the horrors of the disastrous Mississippi floods that devastated Louisiana in 1882--evoking Beasts of the Southern Wild & Hurricane Katrina for modern readers. A visit after 25 years to his childhood hometown of Hannibal is a perfect meditation on the ravages of time that mixes comedy with profound insight. And who can resist stories about boats? Steamboats, sailboats, rowboats, any boats--i love 'em all.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Lawson

    I love Mark Twain, I really do. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer as well as the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn are just classic. He was a satirist (a brilliant one at that). He was a story-teller. He was so good at being a satirical orator that he made a living of it! He travelled the world. He was a celebrity if there ever was one. Maybe it was because I read his fiction first, maybe it was because I idolized him, but good god this was a hard book to get through for me. This wasn't his first book. I love Mark Twain, I really do. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer as well as the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn are just classic. He was a satirist (a brilliant one at that). He was a story-teller. He was so good at being a satirical orator that he made a living of it! He travelled the world. He was a celebrity if there ever was one. Maybe it was because I read his fiction first, maybe it was because I idolized him, but good god this was a hard book to get through for me. This wasn't his first book. In fact, this wasn't his first work of non-fiction. However, this was his first work of non-fiction that I have read. The Gilded Age, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Prince and the Pauper, and many, many more came before Life; and a ton more came afterwards, though, none more important than the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. (Life actually presents a chapter from Huck Finn, which was his next major published work after the aforementioned.) Life absolutely excels in characterization. All of the people that influenced Twain's piloting career of steamboats on the great Mississippi River were not only influential in terms of him becoming a somewhat successful pilot but they also impacted his personality. I adored all of the stories throughout this piece. I craved them, actually; but therein is the problem with this book. It leaves the reader starving for human interaction. My major issue is with the exposition Twain presents, which is grueling to say the least. I felt suffocated at times with steamboat statistics, town population counts, and distances between islands of the vast river. It's lacking the episodic substance that could make it more interesting! Life actually reminded me of Herman Melville's Moby Dick because of the way it saturates the texts with facts upon facts upon stats upon stats. I'm not saying that all of the nautical know-how of the steamboat industry is useless, but I am saying that it's a bit much. It ruins the progression of this book (if there really is any at all). I had difficulty with the like of linear progress as well. I expected for the book to start at one end of the river and end at another. Twain tries to portray this progression in the final chapter, but I didn't buy into it. Life is disjointed. It bounces to and fro between years past and present with entire decades being left out at times. It just isn't congruent enough for my attention span. Perhaps, this was Twain's intention. There is a lot of detail given at the beginning of Life that explains how hard piloting on the Mississippi used to be before significant markers were actually put into place to help guide steamboats down the river and allow them to know where they were. Parts of this book collapse and disappear much like the fragile banks of the river do whenever it becomes mighty. It is worth reading, however. I would just suggest reading a lot of his fiction first because this is a poor example of Twain's true genius.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Thom Swennes

    Starting with a humorous and informative history of the river, Life on the Mississippi by Mark Twain continues to describe piloting that waterway. In the same home-down style established by all of his more well known works, Twain paints a brightly-colored portrait of that long river with all its twists, turns, rapids, shallows and landmarks. The book traces river travel from the time that the river pilot was almost a god to their downfall with the building of levees, dykes and the placing of Starting with a humorous and informative history of the river, Life on the Mississippi by Mark Twain continues to describe piloting that waterway. In the same home-down style established by all of his more well known works, Twain paints a brightly-colored portrait of that long river with all its twists, turns, rapids, shallows and landmarks. The book traces river travel from the time that the river pilot was almost a god to their downfall with the building of levees, dykes and the placing of light and floating markers, making the navigation of the river immensely easier. Halfway through the sketches (I use this word as the book sometimes lacks in unity) the author moves away from a direct connection with the Mississippi River and continues with colorful accounts that take the reader around the world. Life on the Mississippi was the start of Mark Twain’s (Samuel Clements) fame as a writer. This introduction to a great writer and a great mind is a true diamond; not in the rough but shining as a lighthouse in the misty night.

  17. 5 out of 5

    KOMET

    By turns, this book served as a travelogue, a history of the Mississippi, and as a source for Twain's reminiscences of his life as a steamboat pilot on the same river in the antebellum era. Of all these functions, I enjoyed most reading about Twain's return to the Mississippi in the early 1880s and his younger days working on steamboats from Cairo, Illinois to New Orleans. Only the latter part of the Appendix I felt was a little superfluous and out-of-place. It pains me to say that as a Mark By turns, this book served as a travelogue, a history of the Mississippi, and as a source for Twain's reminiscences of his life as a steamboat pilot on the same river in the antebellum era. Of all these functions, I enjoyed most reading about Twain's return to the Mississippi in the early 1880s and his younger days working on steamboats from Cairo, Illinois to New Orleans. Only the latter part of the Appendix I felt was a little superfluous and out-of-place. It pains me to say that as a Mark Twain fan, but that was one part of the book that held little appeal for me.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kevin

    Well, this has been on my To Read list for a while, and a recent perusal of my bookshelves turned it up so i picked it up. Having spent a fair amount of time in Missouri, i'm glad i read it. The book is a conglomeration of different pieces, patched together into a volume containing much information related to the Mississippi River from the perspective of the famous author Mark Twain. I enjoyed his insight into the skills and knowledge required of the steamboat pilot, an occupation he had earlier Well, this has been on my To Read list for a while, and a recent perusal of my bookshelves turned it up so i picked it up. Having spent a fair amount of time in Missouri, i'm glad i read it. The book is a conglomeration of different pieces, patched together into a volume containing much information related to the Mississippi River from the perspective of the famous author Mark Twain. I enjoyed his insight into the skills and knowledge required of the steamboat pilot, an occupation he had earlier in his life. I also enjoyed the political, social, and historical commentary of Twain in the latter part of the book which is primarily Twain's travel diary and "blog" as he returns to the Mississippi River after decades of international travel and learning. His wit and attitude are enjoyable to read, and his views are interesting, he having been raised on the river and then returning to it after decades of travel and education. The book drags at times, but also provides insights which may be hard to find anywhere else. How many steamboat pilots become internationally famous and published authors? There are many interesting subjects covered related to a wide range of topics relevant in the second half of the 19th century. All in all, this book is a great read, despite the dragging parts. I'm thankful that the native American legend of "The Undying Head" was relegated to Appendix D - it was all i could do to get through that one. This is a great read if you like Twain, or are interested in the history and legend surrounding "Old Man River".

  19. 4 out of 5

    Katy Harris

    This book sparked my love for the Mississipi River a few years back. As a person whose eyes glaze over when someone talks about science, Twain's very detailed description of geological aspects of the Mississippi River was surprisingly fascinating. His stories about the people on the steamboats of the river are hilarious, and there is a great appendix of a few beautiful Native American stories that I will never forget. I also love the historical bend to the book, but I love so many things... One This book sparked my love for the Mississipi River a few years back. As a person whose eyes glaze over when someone talks about science, Twain's very detailed description of geological aspects of the Mississippi River was surprisingly fascinating. His stories about the people on the steamboats of the river are hilarious, and there is a great appendix of a few beautiful Native American stories that I will never forget. I also love the historical bend to the book, but I love so many things... One last thing: Twain changes subjects often and the chapters are divided into short little vignettes, so reading the book is easy like floating down the river on a sunny day. I highly recommended this book!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jean

    Of the first fifteen chapters of the book, twelve are reprinted from “The Atlantic.” In the three introductory ones which precede these, the physical character of the river is sketched. The book was published in 1883. The book begins with a brief history of the river beginning with the Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto then on the French Marquette and La Salle. The most engrossing section describes the author’s education as a steamboat pilot. Vivid details and anecdotes link the story of life on Of the first fifteen chapters of the book, twelve are reprinted from “The Atlantic.” In the three introductory ones which precede these, the physical character of the river is sketched. The book was published in 1883. The book begins with a brief history of the river beginning with the Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto then on the French Marquette and La Salle. The most engrossing section describes the author’s education as a steamboat pilot. Vivid details and anecdotes link the story of life on the River. He tells of the odd habits of the steamboat pilots. There is a section on how to read the river including the conformation of the banks, sandbanks, islands and inlets as well as sudden cut outs of the river after storms. The rest of the book is an account of Twain’s trip down the Mississippi decades later as an old man. He describes the changes in the river and of American during his lifetime. The book is hilarious, fascinating, meandering tour of the Mississippi River most of all the book is entertaining. I read this as an audio book downloaded from Audible. Grover Gardner does an excellent job narrating the book.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Karen Chung

    This is my favorite Twain work so far. I find with Twain that the more he is telling the truth, the more I like a work. I'm just not as crazy about his outlandish fictional concoctions. This book has helped me make better sense of Twain's frequent unflinching treatment of death. This was certainly the result of years of brooding over certain experiences of his early life, as revealed in many passages in this book. The final chapters confirm that Tom Sawyer is indeed to a great extent This is my favorite Twain work so far. I find with Twain that the more he is telling the truth, the more I like a work. I'm just not as crazy about his outlandish fictional concoctions. This book has helped me make better sense of Twain's frequent unflinching treatment of death. This was certainly the result of years of brooding over certain experiences of his early life, as revealed in many passages in this book. The final chapters confirm that Tom Sawyer is indeed to a great extent autobiographical. Hearing a bit about what St. Paul - my hometown - and Minneapolis, Minnesota were like in the late 19th century was an unexpected treat at the end. In some ways, it sounded as though St. Paul, during this heyday of the railways, was a relatively livelier center of activity then than it is now. The four appendices are all well worth reading or listening to carefully - don't skip over them! I listened to this as an audio book - John Greenman has recorded many of Twain's works for Librivox, and has done an exquisite job on all of them.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Tyler Jones

    Like the river it describes, this book is long and meandering, possesses a great deal of nostalgic charm and is capable of sudden bursts of violence. The first few chapters tell a highly opinionated version of the history of the rivers discovery (by the Europeans anyway), then it quickly changes into a personal reminiscence of Twain's years as a cub-pilot, then full fledged pilot. Midway through the book there is a leap of some thirty years, and Twain, now the famous author, returns a to the Like the river it describes, this book is long and meandering, possesses a great deal of nostalgic charm and is capable of sudden bursts of violence. The first few chapters tell a highly opinionated version of the history of the rivers discovery (by the Europeans anyway), then it quickly changes into a personal reminiscence of Twain's years as a cub-pilot, then full fledged pilot. Midway through the book there is a leap of some thirty years, and Twain, now the famous author, returns a to the river and writes a humorous travelog. If this were not disjointed enough, Twain layers in a bunch of tall tales and goes on more asides than the Mississippi has streams feeding into it. Ah, but the language and wit! I feel I have spent a few weeks in a place and time I could never have known if this book had not been written.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Melanti

    Not a big fan. The first 40% or so is a memoir of Twain's personal experience on the river when he was 20-25 years old. This part, is good, and I'd recommend it. Not as much as his Huck Fin, but it's still worth reading. The rest is his travel notes from when he returns to the river decades later and is comparing the differences to the river he remembers from his younger days. A lot of that travelouge is fairly dry. However, it's interpsersed with a handful of tall tales and fun witticisms that are Not a big fan. The first 40% or so is a memoir of Twain's personal experience on the river when he was 20-25 years old. This part, is good, and I'd recommend it. Not as much as his Huck Fin, but it's still worth reading. The rest is his travel notes from when he returns to the river decades later and is comparing the differences to the river he remembers from his younger days. A lot of that travelouge is fairly dry. However, it's interpsersed with a handful of tall tales and fun witticisms that are just frequent enough that whenever I was contemplating abandoning the book, I it another fun part and that gave me just enough motivation to keep going. I'm kind of dreading his autobiography now - because I don't know if it'll be more akin to the first 40% or the last 60%!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Will Mego

    The parts I enjoyed, I enjoyed greatly. The parts I did not, I very much did not. My only criticism of this book is it's amazing propensity to ramble. Where Twain rambles into a story, it's captivating. Where he rambles to describe some endless feature of a forgotten passage of the great river, not so much. He keeps the reader from ever really sinking into the narration, from ever finally succumbing to the great man's storytelling, but like continually waking someone on the verge of slumber, The parts I enjoyed, I enjoyed greatly. The parts I did not, I very much did not. My only criticism of this book is it's amazing propensity to ramble. Where Twain rambles into a story, it's captivating. Where he rambles to describe some endless feature of a forgotten passage of the great river, not so much. He keeps the reader from ever really sinking into the narration, from ever finally succumbing to the great man's storytelling, but like continually waking someone on the verge of slumber, eventually even the most even tempered soul will snap.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Rebekah

    Only got three because it was Twain. Definitely not his best.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Beth

    An educational and entertaining trip along the Mississippi with a great storyteller.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Chana

    Mostly I really enjoyed this book which is a combination of autobiography, history and tall tales. I love reading about the early steamboat days on the Mississippi. What an amazing and challenging job it must have been to pilot one of these boats before all the "improvements" to the river such as making cuts to make it shorter and electric lights to see where one is going. Well I suppose they were improvements in the sense of bringing the river and boating into the modern age and making it a Mostly I really enjoyed this book which is a combination of autobiography, history and tall tales. I love reading about the early steamboat days on the Mississippi. What an amazing and challenging job it must have been to pilot one of these boats before all the "improvements" to the river such as making cuts to make it shorter and electric lights to see where one is going. Well I suppose they were improvements in the sense of bringing the river and boating into the modern age and making it a whole lot safer. But I loved the old days on the river when the pilot had to have the river memorized in his head. Well Mark Twain makes it sounds really cool. Except for that boilers exploding part of steamboating. Not such an uncommon event evidently. Mark Twain's brother Henry died from injuries suffered in a steamboat boiler explosion. That explosion and his brother's death is written about in this book. Actually quite a lot is covered in this book, not just steamboating; there is a lot social and political commentary, and as usual for Mark Twain, much of it is funny. I learned that mark twain means 2 fathoms which is 12 feet, deep enough to be safe for the steamboat. Read the weirdest supposedly Indian story called "The Undying Head" in appendix. Read that Mark Twain holds Sir Walter Scott responsible for bad writing, bad architecture and at one point, perhaps the Civil War. Is he joking? Yes and no, I think. I just think this man had a fascinating mind and I love reading him. The only places this book dragged was in all the descriptions of the cities on the Mississippi 20 years after the time Mark Twain was a riverboat pilot and he travels down the river as a writer and tells us about it. There are exceptions to this boringness such as when he goes to his old home town and asks about all the kids he knew at that time. It is interesting and entertaining when he is giving us history or making jokes, but when he starts giving population and industry statistics, I found that boring. Although the contrast between his optimism at America's future and our current national pessimism was marked.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Katrice

    It took me a long time to finish this book. It's not necessary a commentary on Mr. Twain's writing but more two personal problems. First, it's very technical. Twain goes into detail as to how piloting a steamboat actually works. On one hand, fascinating. But on the other hand. . . eyes glaze over and am not sure I really took anything away from the paragraph I just read other then, steamboat piloting a elaborate and elegant art. It's probably a testament to Twain's prose, and a big part of the It took me a long time to finish this book. It's not necessary a commentary on Mr. Twain's writing but more two personal problems. First, it's very technical. Twain goes into detail as to how piloting a steamboat actually works. On one hand, fascinating. But on the other hand. . . eyes glaze over and am not sure I really took anything away from the paragraph I just read other then, steamboat piloting a elaborate and elegant art. It's probably a testament to Twain's prose, and a big part of the reason I stuck to this book, that - despite being so technical and precise in describing steamboat piloting - he never makes it sound ugly or dry. He actually muses/worries about it pretty early on. That by learning the river, reducing it to a series of facts and figures he needs to know by heart to pilot his boat safely - he can no longer see and appreciate the beauty of the river itself. Am happy to say, that is not the case. Twain never tires of the beauty of the river and he's great at conveying that beauty, that poetry in his words to us. He's also great at recording and relaying the tales and lore he picked up cruising the river and capturing the unique characters he meets along the way. Second reason it took me so long was probably my copy. It was a mass market paperback with really tiny font and. . . it was hard. So. Life on the Mississippi? A hard read but a worthwhile one.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Krystina D.

    Mark Twain is one of my favorite authors: he gave birth to my favorite little town of St. Petersburg and fueled my appreciation for a genre I thought I'd never like: historical fiction. That was what drove me to read "Life on the Mississippi" (as well as a good friend's recommendation). It's easy to see from the bits and pieces he writes down what he drew from in his fictions. I found myself laughing more than once just at the way he describes things like the way someone says something or the Mark Twain is one of my favorite authors: he gave birth to my favorite little town of St. Petersburg and fueled my appreciation for a genre I thought I'd never like: historical fiction. That was what drove me to read "Life on the Mississippi" (as well as a good friend's recommendation). It's easy to see from the bits and pieces he writes down what he drew from in his fictions. I found myself laughing more than once just at the way he describes things like the way someone says something or the exact look on someone's face as they're talking so you can picture it in a very humorous way. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in one of the few Civil War southerners that was both much too progressive and much too approachable for his time.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Walker

    I really loved this book. It gives a fascinating look at life in the mid-late 19th Century via Twain's memories and musings. The book takes you on a journey from his days as a youth apprenticed to a pilot on a steamboat to latter years when he revisits the sites of his youth. It is educational, yet exciting, sentimental, yet droll. A worthy addition to your bookshelf!

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