A brilliant amalgam of remembrance and reportage, by turns satiric, celebratory, nostalgic, and melancholy, Life on the Mississippi evokes the great river that Mark Twain knew as a boy and young man and the one he revisited as a mature and successful author.
Written between the publication of his two greatest novels, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Twain's rich portrait of the Mississippi marks a distinctive transition in the life of the river and the nation, from the boom years preceding the Civil War to the sober times that followed it.
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Road Trip Book - Though on a River
Long before the advent of road trip books like John Steinbeck's, Travels with Charlie, or Jack Kerouac's, On the Road, there was Mark Twain's - Life on the Mississippi. This is a two part story - one dealing with Twain's years as a riverboat pilot on the Mississippi, and the second part focusing on his nostalgia journey back to the river twenty years later.
The river serves as metaphor for the rapidly changing industrial landscape of mid-19th Century North America. Twain encapsulates the metamorphoses through vignettes and interviews that capture "what-was" and "what-is."
As good in audio as in text, this story will captivate historians and Big Muddy aficionados. It does tend to drag towards the end, though for a purpose. I wouldn't let that keep me from recommending this book. Just listen to it when you have plenty of leisure time or you're on the road again in the Midwest.
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- Patric Ryan
Get your river pilot license for the Mississippi!
If this book accomplishes anything is that it will teach you just how hard it is to learn the Mississippi River well enough to be a riverboat pilot, something Mark Twain did achieved and wished he had returned to later in life.