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The American Claimant Paperback – September 25, 2013

14 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1466265264 ISBN-10: 1466265264

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

American author and lecturer, Mark Twain, whose real name was Samuel Langhorne Clemens, wrote unique mocking humour and satire. His judiciousness and logic are evident in his works. The hallmark of his writings is his eloquence against oppression.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 218 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (September 25, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1466265264
  • ISBN-13: 978-1466265264
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.5 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,471,343 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Mark Twain (1835-1910) was an American humorist, satirist, social critic, lecturer and novelist. He is mostly remembered for his classic novels The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Jack Purcell on January 14, 2005
Format: Paperback
No. Nothing by Mark Twain can qualify as his 'best'. The breadth of his writing career cuts too wide a swath for such a statement. However, The American Claimant, obscure though it is, is certainly among his best.

The American Claimant is about Americans, the way they view themselves, the way they are viewed by others through the eyes of a British nobleman. Even though a century has passed since the book was written, most of the acute observations are as true today as when it was written.

A family of Americans descended from an eldest son of a British Earl, Lord Rossmore, has been claiming the title for many generations. The actual young Earl, filled with idealism, decides to abdicate, to change places with the American claimant. He travels to the US with the intention of contacting Colonel Mulberry Sellers, the claimant, to exchange places. Sellers is an American dreamer, always down on his luck, an inventor, a philanthropist of sorts.

Through a series of Keystone Kops misfortunes the Earl loses his letters of credit, assumes the clothing of bank robber from the west, takes up life in a boarding house of workmen, determined to make a life on his own and abandon the wealth of his past.

This is the setting for The American Claimant. The Earl discovers the American dream isn't quite as it is cracked up to be, discovers his taste for the common man is far less palatable in close proximity. Every attempt to find employment is thwarted until he discovers himself to be a worthy hack as an artist.

Fate takes a hand in the lives of the young Earl and the heir of the claimant, leading to a zesty, if predictable wrap-up.

As with every book by Mark Twain, this one is fun. It is astute. It is thought provoking.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By eric3742 on April 5, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I read Twain primarily for his humor. This book is one of his better efforts in that genre. His droll, tongue-in-cheek humor wasn't as prevalent as in his short story, "The Diary of Adam and Eve", but there was still plenty of it, as was some of his off the wall sarcastic wit.

The plot line is full of mistaken identities, misunderstood efforts, and general confusion; it was somewhat reminiscent of R.L. Stevenson's "The Wrong Box".

I found myself grinning on occasion, while reading this book, and even chuckled a time or two. It was an entertaining, fun read, and I recommend it to anyone looking for a light, pleasant evening.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Bomojaz on July 27, 2006
Format: Paperback
What we have here is an American (Mulberry Sellers) infatuated with English peerage who believes he is the rightful heir to the Earl of Rossmore and the real Earl who decides to throw over his title, come to America, and try out good old American egalitarianism where titles don't mean a hoot. So Lord Berkeley comes to America, is mistakenly thought burned to ashes in a hotel fire, but has in the meanwhile donned the cowboy outfit of One Armed Pete, a western outlaw and bank robber with a $5,000 award on his head. Desperate to find work but unable to, Berkeley begins to doubt the wisdom of his experiment in America, but then gets a job as a painter's assistant (Twain makes fun of the limitations of artists here and it's hilarious). Sellers is an inventor and schemer and is always coming up with a new contraption (the "Cursing Phonograph") or crazy idea (shifting the tropics to the arctic); Berkeley meets his daughter Sally and they instantly fall in love. Mistaken identity and misunderstandings hamper their relationship, though it's always more funny than serious. Everything gets straightened out, of course, by the end. Twain's humor here is more farcical than satirical, and he knows how to pour it on thick and keep the laughter flowing. The best scene is where Sally dismisses Berkeley (who by that time is going by the name of Howard) because she thinks he's only after her father's earldom. Not only is the whole scene ridiculously wacky, but her despair at not being kissed by him after she tells him to leave is only the rich icing on the cake. The book is a lot of fun, though not among the very first rank of Twain's work.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By T. Patrick Killough on February 6, 2008
Format: Paperback
Mark Twain's 1892 novel THE AMERICAN CLAIMANT is neither notably long nor notably short. It has the "middle-weight" (or at least middle length) feel of a Graham Greene novel. THE AMERICAN CLAIMANT's 25 chapters make it, however, too long to be called a novella. On the other hand, it also lacks the heft of an unhurried whopper by Fenimore Cooper or Sir Walter Scott. As for content: it resembles a zany anticipation of P. G. Wodehouse's Jeeves and Wooster, both authors delighting in bird-brained but kind-hearted aristocrats of both England and America.

The Earl of Rossmore has an annual income of 200,000 pounds and only one heir, his flighty, nearly 30 year old son Viscount Berkeley, whose full name is Kirkcudbright Llanover Marjoribanks Sellers. The heir-apparent to the Sellers family name, title and wealth is, alas, influenced by leveling ideas among his smart set. He therefore resolves to renounce his inheritance and go to America, find work and rise to the heights by his own unaided efforts.

But wait: there is an "American claimant" to the English Earl's title. A century and a half ago, a Sellers viscount went off with the noble Fairfaxes (who later befriended the young George Washington) to "the wilds of Virginia, got married, and began to breed savages for the Claimant market" (Ch. 1). Back in England the then viscount was presumed to have died in America and his younger brother quietly assumed the title. But every generation of American Sellerses has since protested the cadet line's usurpation.

The newest American Claimant is the polymath, exuberantly fecund but financially unsuccessful inventor, Colonel Mulberry Sellers.
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