Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.
Mark Twain: A Life Paperback – June 5, 2006
|New from||Used from|
See the Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
More About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
Power's biography was refreshing and interesting on every page. Honestly, there was never a dull page. He effectively weaves into a coherent whole the life experiences of Samuel Clemens, the shaping forces that stimulated the growth of Mark Twain the writer, and the life those books had in 19th Century US as a whole. This tri-fold story is woven together seamlessly and dynamically. One comes away learning so much about a remarkable American icon as well as the nature of the times he lived in.
Obviously, I really liked this book. It has piqued me to re-read Twain, and read some of Twain's works that I have never read. I would think that anyone interested in writing, literature, and American history would enjoy Power's biography as thoroughly as I did.
The past generation, tainted with "deconstruction", Freudian, feminist and anti-racist analyses of who Samuel Langhorne Clemens was, leaves many wondering why he should be venerated. Accusations of "crude" and "unlettered" still drift though writings about him. Powers lays these to rest with gentle, if firm, dismissals. Like any man, Clemens had his faults and foibles. His failures at business are the stuff of legend, but it was an era of freebooting capitalism. No vaccine had been developed to inoculate the innocent, and innocence was considered a virtue in Clemens' time. Powers carefully relates how "Sammy" who wanted to live forever on the Mississippi River, was snatched away from a life of absolute power - no-one dared challenge a steamboat pilot - to partake of an era for which he had no briefing.
From the childhood on the River, dominated by his austere father and religious mother, Sam Clemens moved across America to avoid the conflict he had no taste for. The escape to Nevada and the Comstock opened many opportunities for discovery. His own Mother Lode turned out to be people. Powers follows Clemens on his prospecting for personalities.Read more ›
Powers also gives insight into the unique genius of Twain. There is a wonderful paragraph in which he describes the child's gift for hearing and seeing in unusual ways. And how this gift would totally transform American literature bringing into the colloquial voices of so many different American worlds.
There have been other very good biographies of Mark Twain but this one in its most detailed reading of the life is a real contribution to our understanding of America's greatest comic writer.
In Mark Twain: A Life, Ron Powers, a Pulitzer Prize-winning and Emmy Award-winning writer and critic who has studied and written about Mark Twain for many years (his published work includes Dangerous Water: A Biography of the Boy Who Became Mark Twain), has written a top-echelon biography of "the representative figure of his times."
Powers' project was to write a narrative of Twain's life and works that explains what bound Twain and his half of the American 19th century so closely together, and to explain the liberating personal magnetism that Twain possessed that moved his contemporaries to forgive him for traits and tendencies that biographers of a later time have found deplorable.
"Twainian critical literature from 1920 onward," writes Powers, "has been dominated by theory, rather than interpretive portraiture. His biographers have tended to evoke him through the prism of Freudian psychoanalysis. In that way he is seen as an interesting, if not terribly self-aware outpatient--a walking casebook of neuroses, unconscious tendencies, masks, and alternate identities."
Drawing heavily on the preserved viewpoints of the people who knew him best, Powers seeks to rediscover Mark Twain the human being, as he lived, breathed, and wrote. With the assistance of the Mark Twain Project at Berkeley, he has drawn on thousands of letters and notebook entries, many only recently discovered.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Poorly edited! Some details repeated and are obvious mistakes, sentences without a clear subject, paragraphs that introduce subjects midway, arcane vocabulary... Read morePublished 1 month ago by The Clambodian
Full of little known facts about Mark Twain. A little bit of a long read, but interesting.Published 5 months ago by ed
One of the finest Twain biographies I've ever read. Powers presents a balanced account of a complex man. Clemens was at once a showman and deeply personal. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Matthew Kelley
I found this to be verbose. The continual references to obscure letter communication, punctuated by platitudinous narrative made this hard work. Too much detail for my tastes.Published 5 months ago by George Bray
Not only has Ron Powers depiction captured "the real Samuel Clemons aka. "Mark Twain" but also, the essence of those turbulent and exhilarating times that he lived in... Read morePublished 6 months ago by brian r mahany