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Showing 1-10 of 447 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 518 reviews
on July 5, 2014
I've long been an admirer of Mark Twain. Few writers reveal as much of themselves in their work as does Samuel Clemens (Twain). For me, he embodies the American spirit and character in a way that few others do; and "Life on the Mississippi" is Twain at the top of his game. He's a genius at dialogue, recognizes and enjoys the pretensions of people; and will not tolerate hypocrisy. His story-telling technique is wonderful, and he can be very funny. Having said that, Twain's writing can also be uneven, and sometimes a passage of utter beauty can be followed by drivel. That's Twain.

I've read that when "Life on the Mississippi" was submitted for publication, Twain's editors thought it was too short, so sent the writer on a trip down the River to reflect on the changes since he had lived there. Twain is Twain, so reading that part of the book is not unpleasant, but it is really just a travel piece that does not begin to rise to the levels of his earlier reflections. Even so, Twain seemed to be aware that he was writing the story of a time and place that was rapidly disappearing; and in that I think he was correct. "Life on the Mississippi" stands as a valuable snapshot of a time, place, and writer that are no more.
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VINE VOICEon September 15, 2010
Kudos to Amazon for making "Life on the Mississippi" available for free for the Kindle and the iPhone Kindle application! Twain's book is a rambling affair, and in fact, its somewhat quirky form makes it read more like a present-day book than a product of its time. Twain's style is engaging. This might be clearest in the historical sections, where, if you think that all historical narratives are dry and academic, "Life on the Mississippi" will prove you wrong. As many other reviewers note, this is an entirely different view of Mark Twain's work than the novels that tend to find themselves relegated to study in the public schools, and in many ways both more informative and more fun. Thanks again to Amazon for making this and other important public domain books available for free download!
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on January 9, 2016
This is a bit of a history lesson that, of course, the author adds his humor and delightful writing style to. Reading anything by Mark Twain, I feel as if I was transported back in time and am right there along the Mississippi watching and hearing all that goes on. Mark Twain has so many books that are amazing, this one though, I feel, shows even more sides of this talented author. Just know, that any Mark Twain book you grab is going to take you on a wonderful journey.
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on October 4, 2011
Bought this book for our family library. It was a good read. Its 799 pages with some B/W character illustrations. Samuel Clemens AKA Mark Twain was one of America's great writers. Samuel Clemens was very opinionated on many subjects and a natural pessimist. He made a lot of money and lost lots of money on bad business investment decisions and could of made a vast fortune but declined to invest in Bell's telephone. Clemens hated slavery and there are bits of sharp sarcasm in his works. He took on society and let the effects of his works fall where they may. Ernest Hemingway (one of my favorite writers) claimed all good later US literature stemmed from Mark Twain.

All of the novels, The Adventures of Tom Sawyers, the epic classic The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Prince and the Pauper, Puddenhead Wilson,and a Yankee at King Arthur's Court were excellent with great character development and great plots. His 4 short stories were fun reading too.

One of the things that set me back with some of his novels was the black slavery talk like "de,des,ed, etc. etc. For me it slowed the story down a little. I had to train my mind to translate this talk into regular English and read it as such as not to lose time. Also a lot of the "N" word describing a black slave even a 1/32 mixture black slave. Some people may be put off by this languish as racist. Remember that some of the novels and stories were based in before the Civil War, 1 in 1900 and the Prince and the Pauper in the 6th Century. There was slavery and people claimed slaves as property. The novel based in the 6th century in England had slaves too. INMO slavery is a great evil and has no place in this world. That said slavery did happen and if you can get by that, you will enjoy Twain's literature, even thought there is slavery and the "N" word in lots of his great works.

This is a classic book of great literature that belongs in any family literature. Just tell the younger readers that the novels and stories were wrote in an earlier age when there was slavery and many people had slaves and used the "N" word, but today there is no place for it in society and is disrespectful.A great collection of classic works by a recognized master of literature Samuel Clemens AKA as Mark Twain. I would of rated it 5 stars but for the broken slave English that slowed down the reading a little for me. 4 stars
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on June 4, 2012
Mark Twain's inimitable style makes many things interesting, though sometimes he falters in this book. The opening information about the scope of the river basin and his personal story of becoming a river boat pilot sweep you up and carry you along. The second half pieces together bits of small and tall tales, travel information, political commentary, and statistics in a very loosely woven narrative of a journey down and up the river later in Twain's life. Some sections charm the reader, and some put you to sleep. As an author I find the whole of the book interesting in several ways. It gives perspective on the lifestyle, the values, and living conditions on the Mississippi before and after the civil war. He states his opinions vehemently, some of them quite unique--I've never heard Sir Walter Scott and his book, Ivanhoe, blamed for the civil war anywhere else. Twain's humor and writing ability bring the characters and places to life in his rather rascally way, yet more than once I wanted to put it down. Due to these inconsistencies, if a new author wrote this book today it would never see the light of day. I'm glad I persisted to the end and recommend it as a worth while read, even if you skip some parts.
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on March 24, 2015
I have never found so many ideas explored in a book before. This book meanders like the river it celebrates, touching on everything from geography to personal narrative. It has wit and wisdom, tall tales and beautiful truths, stinging social commentary mixed with honest wonder at the changing times. All told in a voice as American as apple pie. I truly think Samuel Clemens cannot be rated highly enough in his capabilities as an observer, reporter, and bulls***ter. (I mean this in the most loving way possible.) This is the first and probably last review I will ever write. Please stop reading whatever you currently are reading and read this instead.
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on September 27, 2013
Mark Twain is one of our most beloved American authors. And for good reason. Not many people can spin a yarn better than he, and not many people can introduce us to characters we will never forget. Life on the Mississippi is probably not his strongest work, but it is still quintessentially Twain. He introduces us to his adventures on the Mississippi River, an iconic American landmark, which he obviously reveres. Through his adventures on steamboats, he shows us how the river is constantly changing, and challenging the pilots who steer the gorgeous steamboats. He was a pilot himself who steered the big boats during the time before electricity lit up the river at night. We learn of the challenges of steering up or down Big Muddy during storms fraught with wind and lightning. We learn about the integrity of the pilots who were always the last to leave a ship engulfed in flames.
When Twain is telling us about the Mississippi, he can have you in the palm of his hand. However, in the latter part of the book, he veers off this subject a bit and talks of life in the South at the time, and, sadly, I became a bit bored. It pains me to admit this. But this book is still well worth the read, even if you only scan the slower parts. After all, it is Mark Twain!
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on October 7, 2013
The introductory chapters dealing with river facts and comparisons to world rivers as well as hillarious rendering of the hisstory of the initial European contact and conquest of the native Americans was the humorist at his best. Strokes of comic genious scatter the remainder of the work but a lot of the verbage deals with learning the constantly changing aspects of the river required to be a river pilot. What I found amazing in the later part of the book were the vividly described scenery of the upper Mississippi. I did not remeber this romantic and detailed senic descriptions in his other works. A great book to read for a Twain fan. If you are just starting to explore the humorist's work I'd try some other titles.

"Big wheel it keeps on turning....
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on April 30, 2017
Great book, I just wish I had known it was
For a 90 year old. It is double the size of any other book I have with 18pt font.
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on January 7, 2017
The book "Life on he Mississippi" has a good explanation of the skills required for a pilot to navigate the paddle steamers that used to extensively move people and freight before the railways were established. There are several good human personality stories included. There are only a few flat spots in the reading that personally didn't interest me, but all in all a good read.
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