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The Complete Short Stories of Ambrose Bierce Paperback – December 1, 1984

4.5 out of 5 stars 37 customer reviews

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From the Back Cover

Before he trailed off into the wilds of Mexico, never to be heard from again, Ambrose Bierce achieved a public persona as 'bitter Bierce' and 'the devil's lexicographer.' He left behind a nasty reputation and more than ninety short stories that are perfect expressions of his sardonic genius. Brought together in this volume, these stories represent an unprecedented accomplishment in American literature.

About the Author

In her foreword, Cathy N. Davidson, author of The Experimental Fictions of Ambrose Bierce, shows that Bierce, in form and mood, left behind the writers of his time and anticipated those of our own.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Bison Books; Reprint edition (December 1, 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0803260717
  • ISBN-13: 978-0803260719
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #449,135 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Doug Anderson VINE VOICE on October 17, 2001
Format: Paperback
Ambrose Bierce's most famous story is An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge and many of his stories follow that same kind of pattern: an event is related with some surprising or revelatory twist at the end. The stories of the Civil War are especially interesting as they are not at all typical writings about war. Bierce does not see the battle so much as one of North against South rather he sees the war as the child sees the war in his story Chickamauga, his attitude is one combining fascination at the spectacle and utter disgust. Life is an unresolved jumble of confused forces and mixed emotions for everyone in Bierce's haunting tales that read like dreams but dreams informed by much contact with reality as Bierce was wounded twice(once in the head)in the war he describes. The descriptions of Civil War battles are told with great precision(and alone make this volume worth having) though there is always an additional element to make them more than war reportage, Bierce turns his accounts into stories because he sees through all the cannon smoke to the small detail which encapsulates the essential thing about an event. In one of my favorites, Killed at Resaca, a courageous captain gallops across a field to deliver a crucial message only to find the field is impassable because of a deep gully, instead of turning around however he merely waits for the enemy to shoot him. Going through his personal things a fellow soldier, the narrator of the story, finds a letter which explains this resolve. The letter reads:"...I could bear to hear of my soldier- lover's death, but not of his cowardice." Later, when the narrator has a chance to return the letter to its author he is asked by her how her soldier-lover died. "He was bitten by a snake,"is the narrators reply.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
Ambrose Bierce was a fine writer and this is a good sampling of his short stories. It is not, however, a complete collection of his short stories. I particularly missed "One Summer Night" and there are a number of other stories that could have been been included. Still, this collection is well worth reading.
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Format: Paperback
Ambrose Bierce was the one of the 2 writers of major significance to fight in and survive the Civil War (the other being Sidney Lanier). He was bitter to begin with, but the experience changed him into an even more cynical man. An eloquent writer, his best subject is fear: his ghost stories are dark and spooky - the civil war stories are as well, but with the added horror of a very real war and fear of battle. "Chickamauga" is one of my favorites - Bierce was actually at the battle but the story is fictional, and adds a supernatural angle to an infamous time and place. His writings are ghostly and vivid tales of America in the mid 19th century. The horrific experiences encountered in his tales are both real and imagined. If you are a ghost story fan or an American history/Civil War buff, you'll enjoy Bierce.
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To anyone interested in the English language and its application by a master story teller, this author must be read. Bierce is an American wit equal to (and contemporary of) Mark Twain, and he writes not with a pen dipped in ink but with a scalple dipped in bile. Prepare to be scathed.
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I'm a forty-percent disabled Vietnam combat-veteran.
My great-grandfather was a disabled combat veteran;
my grandfather (1865-1960) a 100%-disabled veteran;
Dad (1913-1999) was a 20%-disabled WWII veteran...
a SEVERE injury c-a-n effect the rest of your life.
Ambrose Bierce---during the American Civil War---was shot in the face.
The bullet travelled around the outside of his skull, and came out the back of his head.
Bullets in THOSE days were more round than today, but, his survival---none-the-less---
was miraculous. His stories reflect war, horror, and death... in a fraction of the words that
anyone else would stretch out into a long [boring] novel.
My wind wonders, and easily. I LOVE short story anthologies. THIS Bierce's collection is re-
markable for someone that was in combat about the time MY grandfather was born.
In certain ways I can relate to this satirist. He saw things differently, and seemingly, had a
story about a wide range of subjects.
He was well educated with a compact delivery. Not everyone can write... novels, OR, short
stories. Many of these [short] stories, are written in both first- and third-person. He, often,
comes to a fork-in-the-road, and does what many of us would do... he takes it.
The slightly different paths he takes in his stories are, OFTEN, pulled to finality in the final
half-dozen words.
The Civil War stories are the best ones, but, the horror stories are ahead of their time, and
nothing like what you'd see on The SyFy Channel. Bierce---because of his injury, and seeing
DEATH so often early in his life---has a macabre fascination with death, but, leaves gore to
the imagination.

The "tall tales" are cleverly ridiculous.
Read more ›
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If you haven't read the work of Ambrose Bierce you have missed some of the best short story writing around. Before he mysteriously disappeared in Mexico (maybe) in the early 1900s, he was a prolific writer. He wrote in many genres - mystery, science fiction, horror, and is especially known for his writing stemming from his service in the War Between The States. He truly lived one of the most romantic lives of any writer of his era. Most people start with his best known "Devil's Dictionary", but read his short stories to know his genius as a writer.
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