counter Roughing It (Illustrated) + Free Audiobook - Free Download Books
Hot Best Seller

Roughing It (Illustrated) + Free Audiobook

Availability: Ready to download

[THIS KINDLE BOOK QUALITY IS GUARANTEED: It has been carefully edited with a fully interactive content.] Roughing It is a book of semi-autobiographical travel literature written by American humorist Mark Twain. He wrote it during 1870–71 and published in 1872, as a prequel to his first book The Innocents Abroad (1869). This book tells of Twain's adventures prior to his pl [THIS KINDLE BOOK QUALITY IS GUARANTEED: It has been carefully edited with a fully interactive content.] Roughing It is a book of semi-autobiographical travel literature written by American humorist Mark Twain. He wrote it during 1870–71 and published in 1872, as a prequel to his first book The Innocents Abroad (1869). This book tells of Twain's adventures prior to his pleasure cruise related in Innocents Abroad. Roughing It follows the travels of young Mark Twain through the Wild West during the years 1861–1867. After a brief stint as a Confederate cavalry militiaman (not included in the account), he joined his brother Orion Clemens, who had been appointed Secretary of the Nevada Territory, on a stagecoach journey west. Twain consulted his brother's diary to refresh his memory and borrowed heavily from his active imagination for many stories in the book. BONUS : • Roughing It Audiobook. • Biography of Mark Twain • The 29 Best Mark Twain Quotes ABOUT THE PUBLISHER: Rutilus classics publishes great works of literature at an affordable price. Our books have been carefully edited with a fully interactive content.


Compare

[THIS KINDLE BOOK QUALITY IS GUARANTEED: It has been carefully edited with a fully interactive content.] Roughing It is a book of semi-autobiographical travel literature written by American humorist Mark Twain. He wrote it during 1870–71 and published in 1872, as a prequel to his first book The Innocents Abroad (1869). This book tells of Twain's adventures prior to his pl [THIS KINDLE BOOK QUALITY IS GUARANTEED: It has been carefully edited with a fully interactive content.] Roughing It is a book of semi-autobiographical travel literature written by American humorist Mark Twain. He wrote it during 1870–71 and published in 1872, as a prequel to his first book The Innocents Abroad (1869). This book tells of Twain's adventures prior to his pleasure cruise related in Innocents Abroad. Roughing It follows the travels of young Mark Twain through the Wild West during the years 1861–1867. After a brief stint as a Confederate cavalry militiaman (not included in the account), he joined his brother Orion Clemens, who had been appointed Secretary of the Nevada Territory, on a stagecoach journey west. Twain consulted his brother's diary to refresh his memory and borrowed heavily from his active imagination for many stories in the book. BONUS : • Roughing It Audiobook. • Biography of Mark Twain • The 29 Best Mark Twain Quotes ABOUT THE PUBLISHER: Rutilus classics publishes great works of literature at an affordable price. Our books have been carefully edited with a fully interactive content.

30 review for Roughing It (Illustrated) + Free Audiobook

  1. 4 out of 5

    Lyn

    Mark Twain's semi-autobiographical work about the American west in the 1860's. I know that most every student in most every American Lit 301 class is instructed that Melville's Moby-Dick; or, The Whale is the great American novel, but Twain's works must be high on the list of great American literature. This was like Forrest Gump a hundred years early. Twain meets Brigham Young, works as a silver miner, explores the Nevada territory, visits San Francisco during the earthquake, and then goes off t Mark Twain's semi-autobiographical work about the American west in the 1860's. I know that most every student in most every American Lit 301 class is instructed that Melville's Moby-Dick; or, The Whale is the great American novel, but Twain's works must be high on the list of great American literature. This was like Forrest Gump a hundred years early. Twain meets Brigham Young, works as a silver miner, explores the Nevada territory, visits San Francisco during the earthquake, and then goes off to the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii). Twain also tried out the local "surf bathing" - he went surfing. Finally, in the last pages, he meets a drunken man on the streets of San Francisco named Mr. Sawyer. A fun read.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Melki

    Yes, take it all around, there is quite a good deal of information in the book. I regret this very much; but really it could not be helped . . . Tag along on some travels with Twain as he heads way out west, commenting nonstop on all the new flora and fauna he sees along the way. Chuckle as he beholds the exotic wholesomeness of Mormons: Salt Lake City was healthy - an extremely healthy city. They declared there was only one physician in the place and he was arrested every week regularly and held Yes, take it all around, there is quite a good deal of information in the book. I regret this very much; but really it could not be helped . . . Tag along on some travels with Twain as he heads way out west, commenting nonstop on all the new flora and fauna he sees along the way. Chuckle as he beholds the exotic wholesomeness of Mormons: Salt Lake City was healthy - an extremely healthy city. They declared there was only one physician in the place and he was arrested every week regularly and held to answer for having "no visible means of support." Twain was not a big fan of California, bemoaning the lack of changing seasons. I have to agree with him on the last part, and I love this quote: I think that to one in sympathy with nature, each season, in turn, seems the loveliest. And though I got a kick out of Twain and his brother gleefully planning the dream houses they would build after striking it rich, there was just TOO MUCH DAMNED MINING in this book. I did enjoy his visit to the Hawaiian islands, as did he, apparently: At noon I observed a bevy of nude native young ladies bathing in the sea, and went and sat down on their clothes to keep them from being stolen. Twain, you old horndog, you! It had been a fine pleasure trip; we had fed fat on wonders every day . . . Indeed! Note to self - read more Twain.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Supineny

    The first quarter of Roughing It is really great -- the description of his stage coach trip with to Nevada is great travel writing, laced with irony and sly humor. That it is describing a lost world makes it that much more entertaining. Exquisite. There's just one 'humorous' episode concerning a bull that interjects during this part of the book and it seems disconcertingly false -- kind of corny and cartoonish in a not terribly clever way. Perhaps the sort of thing he could bring life to in his f The first quarter of Roughing It is really great -- the description of his stage coach trip with to Nevada is great travel writing, laced with irony and sly humor. That it is describing a lost world makes it that much more entertaining. Exquisite. There's just one 'humorous' episode concerning a bull that interjects during this part of the book and it seems disconcertingly false -- kind of corny and cartoonish in a not terribly clever way. Perhaps the sort of thing he could bring life to in his famous lectures with his drawl and deadpan. But I remembering thinking...'uh oh'. And 'uh oh' was right. The book continues to have some marvelous episodes as Twain continues his western adventure, but they are stretched out with a prodigious quantity of flimsy material. Comic set pieces with caricature-like characters get stale before they've begun, and he spins them out as if he was being paid by the word. A certain kind of broad, formulaic humor obtains - probably what he needed to write for newspapers at the time, but it seems out of place amidst his more mature writing. Whereas the parts where he is achingly funny tend to have a certain realness about them - Clemens is making observations about things trivial and profound that he actually sees or concepts he is grappling with in life. There's a certain kind of sincerity beneath the irony and stretching of facts. Flawed though they are, the middle chapters of Roughing It do, in fits and starts, present a compelling picture of various societies in the wild west and San Francisco, and a shadowy autobiography of Clemens. (Those familiar with Clemens later financial troubles get a glimpse of some of his worst financial impulses early on in his life.) However, the book finally takes an abysmal dive when he takes a trip to Hawaii. It seems like a tacked-on bonus that doesn't relate to the rest of the book. Where the wild west actually sucked Twain in and conferred some of its insanity on him, Hawaii remains just another location to file travel writing from. He presents a lengthy history of the Hawaiian people, which seems cribbed from a textbook. And then, suddenly, unceremoniously, he ends the book with a dull thought or two about travelling. One has the impression that he was inspired it when he started the book, but that by the end, he was just trying to get through it. In short, read the first third, and then feel free to skip chapters after that. There's a bunch of really classic Twain here, but it gets pretty patchy after awhile.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Carol Storm

    "Turn out, boys! The tarantulas is loose!" This is probably the funniest work of classic literature I have ever read. Page for page, it has more laugh out loud moments than anything I've ever seen. It even leaves THE PICKWICK PAPERS by Charles Dickens and TOM JONES by Henry Fielding in the dust. It really makes you wonder what it must have been like to listen to Mark Twain on the lecture circuit in his prime from 1875 to 1895. It must have been like seeing Richard Pryor or Lenny Bruce, and then s "Turn out, boys! The tarantulas is loose!" This is probably the funniest work of classic literature I have ever read. Page for page, it has more laugh out loud moments than anything I've ever seen. It even leaves THE PICKWICK PAPERS by Charles Dickens and TOM JONES by Henry Fielding in the dust. It really makes you wonder what it must have been like to listen to Mark Twain on the lecture circuit in his prime from 1875 to 1895. It must have been like seeing Richard Pryor or Lenny Bruce, and then some. The only problem is, when you read this book a second time, a lot of what Mark Twain actually has to say about the west is really creepy. He hates Native Americans. I mean, he really hates them. And I don't just mean compared to politically correct authors today. Even James Fenimore Cooper (whom Twain ridiculed throughout his career) was capable of more nuance and compassion when writing about his doomed Indian warriors in LAST OF THE MOHICANS. Twain literally laughs at the idea that anyone could imagine Indians as being fully human. It's beyond offensive. It's creepy. (On the other hand, I suspect that Twain's critique of the murderous Mormon elders and their church is still timely, and right on the money. Those old time Mormons had binders full of women, too!) In spite of the disturbing themes, I give this book five stars, because I can't remember any book that ever made me laugh as much. And it deserves fives stars just for the ruffian they call Arkansas. Bully old Arkansas!

  5. 4 out of 5

    H

    Who would have thought Mark Twain could actually be funny! It's a shame most students' first exposure to him is through Huck Finn, which I found to be much less accessible than this book, which was entertaining and interesting and to me a much more palatable introduction to his style. This book is delightful and episodic, and some encounters (the "Bemis and the Buffalo" tale and the encounter with Slade in particular) are standalone masterpieces of comedy; even just dipping into this book is a r Who would have thought Mark Twain could actually be funny! It's a shame most students' first exposure to him is through Huck Finn, which I found to be much less accessible than this book, which was entertaining and interesting and to me a much more palatable introduction to his style. This book is delightful and episodic, and some encounters (the "Bemis and the Buffalo" tale and the encounter with Slade in particular) are standalone masterpieces of comedy; even just dipping into this book is a rewarding and entertaining experience. His work ranges from clever wordplay, to absurdity verging on the post-Modern. As a fan of the Western genre, this book is a milestone in the origins of Western fiction. What a joy!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Judi

    I read someone else's comment that this book is not his best... that it is disorganized and the beginning parts are based on his brother's diary entries and not his own. Regardless, I decided to read this after vacationing in Nevada and visiting Virginia City. As a followup to that vacation, it was a good read. In my opinion, the best part of this book is the beginning. I liked reading about life during that time. It seemed to me that it was better written, but that may have been because its sty I read someone else's comment that this book is not his best... that it is disorganized and the beginning parts are based on his brother's diary entries and not his own. Regardless, I decided to read this after vacationing in Nevada and visiting Virginia City. As a followup to that vacation, it was a good read. In my opinion, the best part of this book is the beginning. I liked reading about life during that time. It seemed to me that it was better written, but that may have been because its style was still new to me... and after awhile the diversions became more annoying. I lost interest about halfway through when he started basically listing info about the gold mines. Today I decided to read up to 80% of the book and then make a decision as to whether i would finish it or not. I didn't make it to 80%. I left him in Hawaii. As I found throughout the book, I'd be very interested in some sections and then I'd be wondering how long this "little story" would last it get back to descriptions of time and place. I've decided that I've wasted enough time on this book and will not be finishing it. As much as goes against my nature. But, there are too many books on my "to-read" list to spend anymore time on this one.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Robert Case

    "Roughing It" is a memoir covering a six year span of Mark Twain's years as a young journalist and occasional miner. It might also be classified as his coming of age story. He just happened to come of age during the tumult of the War Between the States, a time when slavery was still the law of half of the land. From his descriptions of Native Americans, African Americans, and Chinese, there can be little doubt that at this stage of his career, he wrote to an exclusively Caucasian audience. It wa "Roughing It" is a memoir covering a six year span of Mark Twain's years as a young journalist and occasional miner. It might also be classified as his coming of age story. He just happened to come of age during the tumult of the War Between the States, a time when slavery was still the law of half of the land. From his descriptions of Native Americans, African Americans, and Chinese, there can be little doubt that at this stage of his career, he wrote to an exclusively Caucasian audience. It was also instructive for this reader to read his free flowing blend of hyperbole and irony to engage, entertain, and tell a good story. Sometimes it was funny or educational. Other times it was overstated and redundant. The first half of the book is the best part. His descriptions about what it was like to travel across the western US by stagecoach were fascinating. During his trip he actually stopped and visited Salt Lake City at a time when the state we now call Utah, was an independent country...and by Twain's account...ruled by a not so benevolent dictator. Most of the book is a travelogue of his journey to Nevada and the years spent there during the silver rush. These chapters form the heart of the book and frankly, author Mark Twain could have ended it there. Instead, he extends the journey to include subsequent travels in the California goldfields, his days as a journalist in San Francisco, and then a travelogue of Hawaii, at a time when they were still called the Sandwich Islands. These later chapters read like extra baggage. This reader was tempted more than once to just put the book away, unfinished. But, I kept coming back. I recommend this book to students of Mark Twain, readers of western US history, or lovers of memoir.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Michael Clemens

    Very obviously an early work, and a patchwork of Twain's experiences as he opted to mostly miss the Civil War by traveling into the then-territorial west of North America. This is very much a patchwork, and a long one at that: personal recollections are interwoven with tall tales, and occasionally peppered with some political incorrectness that's uncomfortable to read in these supposedly more enlightened days. The Mormon church and native Hawaiians bear the brunt of this, and Twain was not yet a Very obviously an early work, and a patchwork of Twain's experiences as he opted to mostly miss the Civil War by traveling into the then-territorial west of North America. This is very much a patchwork, and a long one at that: personal recollections are interwoven with tall tales, and occasionally peppered with some political incorrectness that's uncomfortable to read in these supposedly more enlightened days. The Mormon church and native Hawaiians bear the brunt of this, and Twain was not yet a refined enough writer (or person?) to let it move into parody: it just feels mean. Still, Twain's embellishing touch is evident, and you can see the celebrated writer through the awkward passages. His travels by stagecoach are particularly enjoyable, and since I live in the area, I was personally pleased to read his impressions and recollections life in of Lake Tahoe and a young San Francisco, including experiencing a destructive earthquake. Like his silver-mining adventures, there are many worthy, entertaining parts to this book, but you must chip through some lesser material to get to it. The edition I read from Project Gutenberg appears to be a full one, including a number of appendices.

  9. 5 out of 5

    John Nelson

    When Mark Twain was a young man and not yet a published novelist, he spent seven years rousting about Nevada and California, with a six-month side trip to Hawai'i (then known as the Sandwich Islands)mixed in. What I would give for a chance to see the West when it still largely was an empty landscape, and Hawai'i with no tourists, fou-fou drinks, or fake Hula shows. Unfortunately, I was born about 125 years too late . . . . Roughing It contains much of Twain's signature humor and exaggeration, bu When Mark Twain was a young man and not yet a published novelist, he spent seven years rousting about Nevada and California, with a six-month side trip to Hawai'i (then known as the Sandwich Islands)mixed in. What I would give for a chance to see the West when it still largely was an empty landscape, and Hawai'i with no tourists, fou-fou drinks, or fake Hula shows. Unfortunately, I was born about 125 years too late . . . . Roughing It contains much of Twain's signature humor and exaggeration, but describes a society and landscape that is recognizable from history, and maintains his fidelity, for the most part, to the truth. Politically-correct types will applaud Twain's description of nineteenth century American society as mainly attached to grasping the main chance, and hiss his depiction of the Indians as degraded savages lacking all culture and refinement, but that misses the point. Twain, as a humorist, chose to emphasize those traits that were most subject to being lampooned, and did so with even-handed glee.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Peter Tillman

    I enjoyed reading this, but less than I was expecting. It's been too long ago to write an actual review, so I will instead refer you to Supineny's, https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... -- which identifies pretty much what I recall as the best and the weakest parts of the book. It's all worth reading, mind, but skim where your attention is faltering, is my advice. It's a book of its time. But the price is right! I was amused at another 3-star reviewer who complained about "too much mining" stuf I enjoyed reading this, but less than I was expecting. It's been too long ago to write an actual review, so I will instead refer you to Supineny's, https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... -- which identifies pretty much what I recall as the best and the weakest parts of the book. It's all worth reading, mind, but skim where your attention is faltering, is my advice. It's a book of its time. But the price is right! I was amused at another 3-star reviewer who complained about "too much mining" stuff -- since I thought that was some of his best. But that's my field. I can't recall if this is the source of the immortal quote that a mine "is a hole in the ground, with a liar at the top" -- but Twain certainly partook in the exuberant speculation in mining stocks then, that generally had about the same outcomes as today's online day-traders find. Here's the link to the book, in many formats, at Project Gutenberg: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/3177

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jon Ingram

    This is by far one of the best books I have ever read. I am particularly prone to wanderlust and adventurous pursuits myself, and you cannot find a better book or a more kindred spirit in this regard. This book is also very funny, and I found myself laughing out loud on many occasions. It is true, as other reviewers have said, that the book lags a little bit around the ¾ mark due to including too much detailed information on various subjects. I think Twain himself recognized this, as he is found This is by far one of the best books I have ever read. I am particularly prone to wanderlust and adventurous pursuits myself, and you cannot find a better book or a more kindred spirit in this regard. This book is also very funny, and I found myself laughing out loud on many occasions. It is true, as other reviewers have said, that the book lags a little bit around the ¾ mark due to including too much detailed information on various subjects. I think Twain himself recognized this, as he is found apologizing for the great amount of information contained in the book during his introduction. However, I still found Twain’s long descriptions historically interesting, and the book definitely picks up again near the end. Other reviewers have noted that Twain appears racist or mean in sections of the book. In response I would say that many reviewers don’t understand the subtleties of the social critique found in Twains writing. He is often pointing out the flaws in several cultures at once, and to say that he is racist is going too far.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Simon Robs

    Tales/vignettes from the western U.S. states of Nevada, Utah & California circa 1861-63.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Christopher

    Here we have Mr. Mark Twain's memoirs of his days in the American West, still barely civilized (the West, not Twain), scouring the hillsides for silver, encountering wild gunslingers and traveling by stagecoach, even visiting Hawaii. (Wanna read about Mark Twain trying to surf? This is the book for you.) Twain revels in the type of story that lies somewhere between fact and fiction. His stories are stranger than both fact or fiction; they are of their own breed. They are all tinted with his own b Here we have Mr. Mark Twain's memoirs of his days in the American West, still barely civilized (the West, not Twain), scouring the hillsides for silver, encountering wild gunslingers and traveling by stagecoach, even visiting Hawaii. (Wanna read about Mark Twain trying to surf? This is the book for you.) Twain revels in the type of story that lies somewhere between fact and fiction. His stories are stranger than both fact or fiction; they are of their own breed. They are all tinted with his own brand of wit, cynicism, and lust for life. Exaggeration is his forte. Verily, "...and that's barely an exaggeration" is an oft-used refrain in this book, meant to both caution the reader from whole-hearted belief and to shun for daring to disbelieve. Truthfully, Twain's journalistic integrity is non-existent. He openly admits that during his tenure as a columnist at a Nevada newspaper, he copied articles straight from the encyclopedia when suffering from writer's block. But his express intent is to entertain, and that he does well. In a passage only Twain could have written, he discusses his reluctance to provide the reader with any experience more valuable than entertainment: Yes, take it all around, there is quite a good deal of information in the book. I regret this very much; but really it could not be helped: information appears to stew out of me naturally, like the precious ottar of roses out of the otter. Sometimes it has seemed to me that I would give worlds if I could retain my facts; but it cannot be. The more I calk up the sources, and the tighter I get, the more I leak wisdom. Therefore, I can only claim indulgence at the hands of the reader, not justification. If you're a bit like Twain, retaining a love for tall tales and able to tolerate a bit of collateral wisdom, my bet is you'd take much delight in this book.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Margery

    I feel inadequate to finding the words to recommend this book. It is one of those books that I have read so many times I can nearly recite it. Here is the young Sam Clemens heading from Missouri to the unknown territories "out west" by the fastest transportation of the day -- the Overland Stage where horses were changed every 10 miles to keep up the pace. The railway connection from east to west was still years away. His first person account of the trip will resonate with travelers today (he and I feel inadequate to finding the words to recommend this book. It is one of those books that I have read so many times I can nearly recite it. Here is the young Sam Clemens heading from Missouri to the unknown territories "out west" by the fastest transportation of the day -- the Overland Stage where horses were changed every 10 miles to keep up the pace. The railway connection from east to west was still years away. His first person account of the trip will resonate with travelers today (he and his brother had to repack before they boarded the stage as they had exceeded the 25 pounds of luggage allowed per passenger), and will add interesting contrast to the memories of anyone who has traveled across country as Twain details what daily life was like "on the road." I visited Carson City and Virginia City, Nevada as well as Twain's beloved Lake Tahoe (which to the end of his life he considered the most beautiful lake in the world). As I passed through these areas the information from "Roughing It" was bright in my mind. It has made my own travel richer, and brought me closer to the soul of an author I love dearly.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Vicki

    This book is a great read. Being a Nevadan, I could truly appreciate many of the stories Twain related in his book. I especially liked his description of a "Washoe zephyr". And it was a treasure to read his description of Lake Tahoe, before it was "developed", and became the congested mess that it is today. What a gem it must have been to be able to see it before there were roads, and casinos, and houses built right by the lake shore. As I was reading that segment of the book, I thought if I cl This book is a great read. Being a Nevadan, I could truly appreciate many of the stories Twain related in his book. I especially liked his description of a "Washoe zephyr". And it was a treasure to read his description of Lake Tahoe, before it was "developed", and became the congested mess that it is today. What a gem it must have been to be able to see it before there were roads, and casinos, and houses built right by the lake shore. As I was reading that segment of the book, I thought if I closed by eyes, I could really see the true, pristine Lake Tahoe that Twain was describing. I appreciated his stories of the Comstock, and it gave me a new appreciation of what the miners went through. I have been to Virginia City many times, but I will look at it with a better understanding of its' history the next time I am there.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Ken

    Take a young Sam Clemens and put him in the Wild West with a bunch of Yahoo gold prospectors and this is what you get. I especially like the Lake Tahoe scene where they're playing an innocent game of euchre when all Hellfire breaks loose. Take a young Sam Clemens and put him in the Wild West with a bunch of Yahoo gold prospectors and this is what you get. I especially like the Lake Tahoe scene where they're playing an innocent game of euchre when all Hellfire breaks loose.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Blair

    Twain's brand of humour wears thin after awhile. Probably would've been of more interest to readers of the time period, whose imaginations were fired by stories of the West. Keeping in mind that he exaggerates famously for effect, what a remarkable life Mark Twain led.! Twain's brand of humour wears thin after awhile. Probably would've been of more interest to readers of the time period, whose imaginations were fired by stories of the West. Keeping in mind that he exaggerates famously for effect, what a remarkable life Mark Twain led.!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Paul Haspel

    The rough life of the frontier American West, in the era of “local color” literature, made compelling reading for readers back East who were looking for vivid tales from other American regions – and rough-and-tumble tales of the American frontier are exactly what Mark Twain provided in his 1872 book Roughing It. Four years before The Adventures of Tom Sawyer made him a household name and a singularly beloved American author, Twain demonstrated in Roughing It the gifts for careful and ironic obse The rough life of the frontier American West, in the era of “local color” literature, made compelling reading for readers back East who were looking for vivid tales from other American regions – and rough-and-tumble tales of the American frontier are exactly what Mark Twain provided in his 1872 book Roughing It. Four years before The Adventures of Tom Sawyer made him a household name and a singularly beloved American author, Twain demonstrated in Roughing It the gifts for careful and ironic observation that would always be hallmarks of his literary career. As with all of his best works, Twain in Roughing It drew from his own life, and from a dramatic set of episodes that went all the way back to the beginning of the American Civil War. When the war began, closing the Mississippi River and putting an end to Twain’s career as a steamboat pilot, Twain briefly joined a Missouri unit of Confederate militiamen – a period of his life that Twain later fictionalized for his sketch “The Private History of a Campaign That Failed” (1885). Fortunately, however, Twain soon abandoned the doomed rebel cause, looking West rather than South for his future. His brother, Orion Clemens, had been appointed secretary to the governor of Nevada Territory, and Twain chose to accompany his brother on an adventurous excursion out to the Western frontier. As his Western journey progresses, Twain regales the reader with “tall tales” about the rough-and-tumble quality of life on the Western frontier – as when, traveling past Fort Laramie in the Black Hills, a stagecoach driver tells Twain and his brother not to worry too much: He said the place to keep a man “huffy” was down on the Southern Overland, among the Apaches, before the company moved the stage-line up on the northern route. He said the Apaches used to annoy him all the time down there, and that he came as near as anything to starving to death in the midst of abundance, because they kept him so leaky with bullet holes that he “couldn’t hold his vittles.” This person’s statements were not generally believed. (p. 100) Once Twain and his brother have arrived in Nevada Territory, Twain gets the chance to witness the inefficiency of government bureaucracy in action (or inaction). Twain describes with some asperity the anger he felt when Orion Clemens, as Territorial Secretary, sought to save the U.S. government some money by having a Native American saw wood for a reasonable price, rather than letting a white Nevadan overcharge the government. But because Orion Clemens did not forge the Native American’s signature on the voucher, the government made Orion Clemens as territorial secretary pay the costs of the transaction himself. Twain’s reaction: [T]he next time the Indian sawed wood for us I taught him to make a cross at the bottom of the voucher – it looked like a cross that had been drunk a year – and then I “witnessed” it and it went through all right. The United States never said a word. I was sorry I had not made the voucher for a thousand loads of wood instead of one. The government of my country snubs honest simplicity but fondles artistic villainy, and I think I might have developed into a very capable pickpocket if I had remained in the public service a year or two. (p. 208) Twain tries his hand at silver mining, repeatedly and unsuccessfully; but then fate takes a hand, and a literary apprenticeship begins. That new phase of Twain’s life, as Twain recounts it, began with the prospects of a job with Virginia City’s newspaper, the Daily Territorial Enterprise, for which Twain had penned a few contributions, “and had always been surprised when they appeared in print. My good opinion of the editors had steadily declined; for it seemed to me that they might have found something better to fill up with than my literature” (p. 302). But then the impoverished Twain received an offer to become city editor of the Territorial Enterprise for $25.00 a week; and the man who would become widely famed as America’s greatest author thus sets down the ambivalent nature of his response: I wanted to fall down and worship [the publisher]….Twenty-Five Dollars a week – it looked like bloated luxury – a fortune – a sinful and lavish waste of money. But my transports cooled when I thought of my inexperience and consequent unfitness for the position – and straightway, on top of this, my long array of failures rose up before me. Yet if I refused this place I must presently become dependent upon somebody for my bread, a thing necessarily distasteful to a man who had never experienced such humiliation since he was thirteen years old. Not much to be proud of, since it is so common – but then it was all I had to be proud of. So I was scared into being a city editor. (p. 302) Part of the virtue of Roughing It consists in seeing the young Mark Twain undergo experiences that would nurture his gifts for careful observation. A newspaper editor or reporter must have a gift for critical thinking, for pointing out the inconsistencies in human behavior, and Twain’s time at the Territorial Enterprise seems to have been helpful in that regard. And a reporter or editor must be able to generate copy – lots of copy – very quickly, as Twain recalls with his customary sardonic wit: Nobody, except he has tried it, knows what it is to be an editor. It is easy to scribble local rubbish, with the facts all before you; it is easy to string out a correspondence from any locality; but it is unspeakable hardship to write editorials. Subjects are the trouble – the dreary lack of them, I mean. Every day, it is drag, drag, drag – think, and worry and suffer – all the world is a dull blank, and yet the editorial columns must be filled. Only give the editor a subject, and his work is done – it is no trouble to write it up; but fancy how you would feel if you had to pump your brains dry every day, fifty-two weeks in the year. It makes one low spirited simply to think of it. (p. 400) I read Roughing It while traveling in Nevada – walking the board sidewalks of C Street, the main street of Virginia City, where the old Territorial Enterprise was transformed into a Mark Twain museum (now closed). The meticulously preserved 19th-century ambience of Virginia City gives one strong insights into how that Wild West boomtown nourished Mark Twain’s literary imagination. But Roughing It is not all-Nevada, all-the-time. Twain’s travels in the American West eventually took him to San Francisco, where he experienced the same cycle of hope followed by failure and then despair that had characterized much of his time in Nevada. But once again, he was saved by a writing job – in this case, a chance to travel as a correspondent to the Sandwich Islands, the Kingdom of Hawaii. Once again, Twain’s gift for detailed observation of the natural world is combined with his ability to spy out the follies and inconsistencies of human behavior, as when he travels to Kealakekua Bay on what is now called “the Big Island” of Hawaii, and visits the spot where Captain James Cook was killed by indigenous Hawaiians in 1778. It is a striking place in terms of landscape – “[A] little flat plain, on which stands a cocoanut grove and some ruined houses; a steep wall of lava, a thousand feet high at the upper end and three or four hundred at the lower, comes down from the mountain and bounds the inner extremity of it” (p. 511). But Twain warns the reader against romanticizing the death of Captain Cook: Plain unvarnished history takes the romance out of Captain Cook’s assassination, and renders a deliberate verdict of justified homicide. Wherever he went among the islands, he was cordially received and welcomed by the inhabitants, and his ships lavishly supplied with all manner of food. He returned these kindnesses with insult and ill-treatment….Small blame should attach to the natives for the killing of Cook. They treated him well. In return, he abused them. He and his men inflicted bodily injury upon many of them at different times, and killed at least three of them before they offered any proportionate retaliation. (pp. 512-13) And indeed, the historical record indicates that Captain Cook’s killing occurred while he was trying to kidnap the Hawaiian monarch Kalani‘opu‘u in order to secure the return of a stolen boat. Twain is right: people around the world do tend to react badly to an attempt to kidnap their head of state. Anyone who appreciates the literary artistry of Mark Twain’s canonical novels, from Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885) to A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1889), will enjoy seeing the great Missouri author honing his literary skills in the frontier West in Roughing It.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Therese

    This is not normally a book I would have chosen to read, but I “needed” to read a Western for one of my reading challenges, so I thought why not give this a shot. I liked the first part of it and pictured myself going across the country, not in a stagecoach like Mark Twain did, but in a train and thought this would make a great book for a road trip. He had only intended on being gone for three months but was gone for seven years, and he confessed that he was surprised that he was not off more th This is not normally a book I would have chosen to read, but I “needed” to read a Western for one of my reading challenges, so I thought why not give this a shot. I liked the first part of it and pictured myself going across the country, not in a stagecoach like Mark Twain did, but in a train and thought this would make a great book for a road trip. He had only intended on being gone for three months but was gone for seven years, and he confessed that he was surprised that he was not off more than that in his initial guess. The book had a good start (quite humorous in some parts), but it would have been a lot better had the book been about half the length because when he gets to the silver mines of Nevada, I found myself wishing that he would hurry on his journey, although my enjoyment was increased due to the fact that I found a free audio book on YouTube and the fellow who read to me (while I followed along in my book) made me feel like it was Mark Twain himself spinning his yarns. His description of the weather in California was interesting, along with his observations of earthquakes, and he even traveled to the Hawaiian Islands for six months before returning to San Francisco where he met a man named Sawyer. If you should choose to read this book, I would recommend reading bits and pieces of it instead of going straight through it like I did. Bite-size pieces might have worked better for me.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Brad

    I came across this book fortuitously. While driving down the Great River Road in Iowa, one of my windshield wipers snapped. Three supercell storms (do we call them supercell storms, or just supercells?) appeared on the horizon in the direction that I was heading, South into Missouri. I took a few turns to 'thread the needle' as they say. I ended up in Illinois and worked my way South from there, working slowly back towards the mighty Mississippi. I crossed into Missouri at the town of Hannibal. I came across this book fortuitously. While driving down the Great River Road in Iowa, one of my windshield wipers snapped. Three supercell storms (do we call them supercell storms, or just supercells?) appeared on the horizon in the direction that I was heading, South into Missouri. I took a few turns to 'thread the needle' as they say. I ended up in Illinois and worked my way South from there, working slowly back towards the mighty Mississippi. I crossed into Missouri at the town of Hannibal. Just off the road was a funny billboard of some sort, which I tried to turn around to find. I took a wrong turn and in doing so ended up at the Missouri Welcome Center. It was just past noon and I had been on the road for about 6 hours, so I figured I would stop in and see if they had coffee available. They did, and while the kind woman was pouring me a cup, she asked if I had been to the Mark Twain house yet. "Excuse me?" If my windshield wiper hadn't broken, if the storms hadn't appeared, if I had picked any other road to St. Louis, if I hadn't taken a wrong turn while turning around... so many variables. I accidentally ended up in the town where Mark Twain was born. After discovering this, I backtracked and went to the house and museum, where I purchased this book. For 2015 I'm trying to purchase as few books as possible, but the woman behind the stand had an embosser and I couldn't resist. I grabbed this item because it was about Twain's experiences in the West, and I was on a roadtrip of my own, discovering the MidWest and everything it could mean to me. It seemed appropriate. That being said, out of everything I've read by Twain, this was one of my favorites. His descriptions were fantastic, and the scenery fell about around me as I read each page. Twain is so well known for his humor (which is present here) but I don't think he gets enough credit for his power and grasp of imagery. Also included, Twain's description of surfing. Quite hysterical.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Catherine Woodman

    Mark Twain did a series of memoirs about his travel experiences, and I had never read any of them prior to this year. One of my sons is taking a Mark Twain class, and I have been reading the books with him, so I have had the opportunity to read them. Twain's brother is appointed to a government position in Nevada, and he takes his little brother along as his secretary. The west is still pretty wild at this point in time--the two travel some by train, but they also travel by stage coach. My son c Mark Twain did a series of memoirs about his travel experiences, and I had never read any of them prior to this year. One of my sons is taking a Mark Twain class, and I have been reading the books with him, so I have had the opportunity to read them. Twain's brother is appointed to a government position in Nevada, and he takes his little brother along as his secretary. The west is still pretty wild at this point in time--the two travel some by train, but they also travel by stage coach. My son called it the 19th century ‘On The Road’, and I think he is right on target with that assessment, because Twain not only describes the places that he goes and the means he uses to get there, but also the people he meets and their characters. My absolute favorite part of the book is his observations of Mormons in Utah. He does not spend a lot of time moralizing about the religion, or describing his moral opposition to polygamy. Instead he tells a story. In it the man first marries a woman about his age. He likes her quite a lot, so he marries her sister, and then another sister, and then her mother, and he might not stop there. But at some point in the process he marries an 11 year old girl and finds out that he likes her best, and then the little girl has all the power in the family, including over her mother. That is completely inappropriate, thought Twain, and I really cannot disagree with him. His other worthwhile story in the book is his time in mining country while he was under the influence of ‘silver fever’—he is not one to forgive others, but he only cuts himself slightly more slack. There are low points in the book (the casual racism that emerges from time to time is unsettling, especially as you try to tease out the fictional characters that Twain built and what we are meant to learn from them), as well as high pints—all in all it is a good travelogue of the American West immediately after the Civil War.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Seashells

    Done! That was a race to the finish with little enjoyment and a whole lotta skimming. I give it 3 stars based on its historical significance and source material (not historical facts, mind you, as one was never certain where fact ended and fiction began), but things like popular phraseology of the time period and the actual language. It was gold in that regard. But my enjoyment of it was so so, as aforementioned. I can always judge how much I'm truly enjoying a book based on how long it sits on Done! That was a race to the finish with little enjoyment and a whole lotta skimming. I give it 3 stars based on its historical significance and source material (not historical facts, mind you, as one was never certain where fact ended and fiction began), but things like popular phraseology of the time period and the actual language. It was gold in that regard. But my enjoyment of it was so so, as aforementioned. I can always judge how much I'm truly enjoying a book based on how long it sits on my nightstand and how many other books I read whilst treading through it. I started it months ago and read about 5 or 6 meanwhile. The problem with satire (and this self-proclaimed 'semi-autobiographical' work) is that I really would have liked to know which of the stories or anecdotes were true and which weren't. Some were OBVIOUSLY fabricated, of course. But then some, he would state things like 'this actually happened' but I still didn't trust the veracity. And I didn't know if I was supposed to! The second guessing myself became maddening. Maybe other people get a roaring kick out of this stuff but I found it tedious. Related, it's a work of humor but then he'd go off on tangents about things that he felt were real injustices such as polygamy and the Mountain Meadow Massacre. He really had it in for the Mormons, by the way. (That's swell criticism from someone who describes natives as 'kangaroo rats.') This made the tone really hard to follow. This was not Twain's best work, in my opinion, and it simply wasn't for me. Except for some of the linguistically genius parts which I admittedly enjoyed.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Julie Mickens

    Like the Nevada quartz described herein, Roughing It contains some really brilliant, valuable stuff but also a hefty load of overburden. Some of this wordy excess and at times hammy humor might bring down the average to a feeble 3 stars, but there's enough memorable Twainian cleverness and historical interest to forgive some skimming and a few skipped chapters. In my opinion, Twain was at his best when he wasn't trying too hard to be funny (or, in times of weakness, lazily leaning on ethnicity/w Like the Nevada quartz described herein, Roughing It contains some really brilliant, valuable stuff but also a hefty load of overburden. Some of this wordy excess and at times hammy humor might bring down the average to a feeble 3 stars, but there's enough memorable Twainian cleverness and historical interest to forgive some skimming and a few skipped chapters. In my opinion, Twain was at his best when he wasn't trying too hard to be funny (or, in times of weakness, lazily leaning on ethnicity/woman jokes) but just honestly reacting to his circumstance. In Roughing It, it seems like Twain was growing as a writer by fits and starts, slowly mastering the courage to be sincere.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Rebekah

    Sammy boy Clemens is truly my best friend. I really didn't realize what this book was about before I started reading. It is basically his younger years of jobs. He is such a great wit. Even when he lost his millions it was still so entertaining. It is hard to say what is actually true in this because Twain can be a little dramatic, but it was still good to have a look into his ling list of short term jobs. I feel I know him better now. Sammy boy Clemens is truly my best friend. I really didn't realize what this book was about before I started reading. It is basically his younger years of jobs. He is such a great wit. Even when he lost his millions it was still so entertaining. It is hard to say what is actually true in this because Twain can be a little dramatic, but it was still good to have a look into his ling list of short term jobs. I feel I know him better now.

  25. 4 out of 5

    B.J. Richardson

    Nobody can write like Mark Twain. In a way, this book was already outdated when he first wrote it way back in 1872. By that time, the pony express he describes has already given way to the railroads. The silver rush he was a part of had already dried up and many of those towns had already been ghosted. But in another way, this work is still relevant today. Tom Sawyer was my favorite book growing up and as a child, I probably watched the adventures of Huckleberry Finn as much as any other movie n Nobody can write like Mark Twain. In a way, this book was already outdated when he first wrote it way back in 1872. By that time, the pony express he describes has already given way to the railroads. The silver rush he was a part of had already dried up and many of those towns had already been ghosted. But in another way, this work is still relevant today. Tom Sawyer was my favorite book growing up and as a child, I probably watched the adventures of Huckleberry Finn as much as any other movie not called Star Wars. But, page for page, Roughing It provides more laughs and wittier commentary than either of those two literary classics. In typical Mark Twain style, you are often unsure when he is leaving off with the truth and heading into fancy. He skirts the line between the two as deftly as anyone in the game. Sometimes, it is obvious. For example, in his "interview" with Brigham Young, when the guy starts complaining that if he has given a gift to one of his wives, then he will have to give one to each of his 134 other wives. This is clearly an exaggeration. Brigham Young only had fifty-five wives. But other times, like when he was talking about the mining speculation frenzy, what might seem like exaggeration is actually soft playing what we know to be true. The best moments are those where Twain appears to be taking one side of an argument only to demonstrate how foolish this viewpoint is. Those who would hold that viewpoint would be like, "That's right... hey, wait a minute..." Two examples of this are his "views" on the inferiority of the minority races and his "complementing" the civilizing of the natives on the Hawaiian Islands. Less savvy readers might complain about his racism, but anyone who knows Clemons' body of work knows that he was incredibly progressive for his time. He personally paid for the room and board of one of the first African Americans to attend Yale University and his letter first offering to do so, he wrote: "I do not believe I would very cheerfully help a white student who would ask a benevolence of a stranger, but I do not feel so about the other color. We have ground the manhood out of them, and the shame is ours, not theirs; and we should pay for it.'' So read Mark Twain. If you would like a colorful take on the Old West, then read Roughing It. About halfway through you will read MT as saying, "I am not a person given to exaggeration. If I say a thing, I mean it." Just realize that as he says this, he is lying through his teeth.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Ram

    The book follows the travels of young Mark Twain through the Wild West during the years 1861–1867. The book covers Twain’s stagecoach trip with his brother Orion Clemens, the newly appointed secretary of the Nevada Territory, from St. Joseph, Missouri, to Carson City, Nevada (July to August, 1861); Twain’s unsuccessful efforts to stake a timber claim and to prospect for silver (until August, 1862); his reporting and freelance writing for the Territorial Enterprise of Virginia City, Nevada (until The book follows the travels of young Mark Twain through the Wild West during the years 1861–1867. The book covers Twain’s stagecoach trip with his brother Orion Clemens, the newly appointed secretary of the Nevada Territory, from St. Joseph, Missouri, to Carson City, Nevada (July to August, 1861); Twain’s unsuccessful efforts to stake a timber claim and to prospect for silver (until August, 1862); his reporting and freelance writing for the Territorial Enterprise of Virginia City, Nevada (until May, 1864); his reporting for the San Francisco Morning Call (1864 to 1865); his trip to Hawaii (March to August, 1866); his work in San Francisco (until December, 1866); and—much more briefly—his return to the East Coast through the isthmus of Panama (December, 1866, to January, 1867). I found some parts very amusing and informational and some parts a bit boring. It is interesting to hear about the life then and there and Mark Twain is an excellent story teller. However, the book didn't really pull me in, due, in some case to information that was possibly important to people of the time but did not impress me. I read the Kindle edition that includes the sketches from the original book, and that was nice

  27. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    Man, Mark Twain is funny. And reading this, I actually heard his Twainy drawl echoing in my head. My favorite bits: 1) The description of traveling through the desert via stage. It was hot and Twain's self-deprecation just hilarious. 2) His insights about the Mormons and The Mountain Meadows Massacre--most excellent. Interesting that he cited evidence that Brigham Young knew about it and orchestrated the whole thing, something still contested by many. I side with Twain. 3) Holy crap! He torched Lak Man, Mark Twain is funny. And reading this, I actually heard his Twainy drawl echoing in my head. My favorite bits: 1) The description of traveling through the desert via stage. It was hot and Twain's self-deprecation just hilarious. 2) His insights about the Mormons and The Mountain Meadows Massacre--most excellent. Interesting that he cited evidence that Brigham Young knew about it and orchestrated the whole thing, something still contested by many. I side with Twain. 3) Holy crap! He torched Lake Tahoe. I had no idea that he (1) tried to make his fortune logging and (2) started a huge forest fire because he left his campfire unattended. And he wasn't even that apologetic about it. Apparently, the fire reflecting off the lake was "actually quite lovely." 4) The story about him and his associates getting lost in the snow, thinking they were going to die, promising God that they would give up all their vices if only He would save them, only to wake up the next morning 15 feet from a barn in the town they were looking for. Oh, and they tried to start a fire with their revolver. I was literally laughing out loud. 5) All the tidbits about mining in Virginia City, how he lost his interest in a mine, which ended up and was worth millions. Bummer, dude. But like many have pointed out, the last half or so drags. I almost didn't finish it, but decided to power on. The descriptions of San Francisco and Hawaii aren't nearly as raw and hysterical as the descriptions of him Forrest Gumping his way across the American West.

  28. 5 out of 5

    wally

    seems like a cheerful bit of writing...heading west w/his brother the secretary and a mr george bemis. i think my mail lady is a bemis....or maybe that's bettis? they had to travel light...just 25 pounds. imagine if the ober-groppen-fuhrers were around at the time? maybe they have their roots here? so no swallow-tail coats and white kid gloves to wear at pawnee receptions. brief description of their arms...there must be something universal about the idea of an animal (in this instance a cow) stan seems like a cheerful bit of writing...heading west w/his brother the secretary and a mr george bemis. i think my mail lady is a bemis....or maybe that's bettis? they had to travel light...just 25 pounds. imagine if the ober-groppen-fuhrers were around at the time? maybe they have their roots here? so no swallow-tail coats and white kid gloves to wear at pawnee receptions. brief description of their arms...there must be something universal about the idea of an animal (in this instance a cow) standing still so as not to come to any harm...yet finding it the moment it moves? i guess if you've ever taken a shot at something you realize you missed when the animal remains rooted to the spot. not a good sign. twain would have been in cartoons, i suspect, had he lived during the television age. he has a description of a coyote being chased by a dog. hilarious. just prior, his description of the coyote is a hoot. i don't recall how the line went, but one part of the 'yote's face threatens harm while the other part apologizes for it. heh! yep! that about nails it. and then there's a brief story about slade...a western desperado who was in business, too...running a stage line....they hung him...finally got fed up w/him and said enough. bout dam time, too. let's return to those days...all these yahoos running our cities and towns, not a one can shoot straight...mutants, each and every one. there's a section where twain is talking with brigham young who is some sort of king of the province of utah and the man is lamenting marriage, all of his 72 wives snoring...and here is another cartoon expression: they would all draw in their breath at once, and you could actually see the walls of the house suck in--and then they would all exhale their breath at once, and you could see the walls swell out, and strain, and hear the rafters crack, and the shingles grind together. that 'sounds' so much like more than a few looney-tunes cartoons i watched, way back in the day. update: Christmas morning. finished last night... yeah, so twain leaves home and crosses the frontier, stopping in nevada territory where his brother is to be some sort of secretary that he don't really get into all that much...he makes a note of his stops and the sights on the way. ...like the mormons in utah (federation of....or republic of...i think) twain has a dim view of the mormom bible, the writing thereof, certain phrases and whatnot...plus he claims the holy bible was plagiarized and so forth. there is an "appendix" about the mormon massacre...this is like something from the horrors of war, although the mormons were experiencing a kind of war--persecuted from ohio to missouri to illinois and back again...(i may be off on a state there by the big river)...to utah, an area that was not the united states at the time. ...so much for religious freedom, hey? twain's coverage of the abuse the mormons suffered at the hand of other is paid little heed...yet he spends a good amount of space on the mormon massacre in which they killed a number....140 or so?....settlers headed west, initially disguised as indians, then as "help" when the settlers resisted to well...and once DISARMED....they killed every last one save 17 kids. should tell you something about all these assholes that would like to do away with the second amendment and disarm the american populace. yet we're too fucking stupid to learn from history and there's enough clamoring to do just that....disarm. ...i mean, you had that jackass clinton and his secretary of war, that witch reno, killing the women and children w/tanks in texas...93 was it? reno, on camera, almost slipping and saying the tank business was just like renting a taxi....she was smug even, smirking! and we in this country applaud the fucking action! religious freedom? sheesh! give me a fucking break! okay... where was i? anyway...in nevada there, twain looks at the silver mining situation, gets in on it himself... after a time he grows weary of nevada, heads to san francisco, but all that is happening there is an earthquake...he heads to sea...to the sandwich islands as they were called.....the kanaka islanders....how'd the world it ever come to be known as the hawaiian islands? cook? so...he plays the tourist there...visiting the volcanoes...has a rather harsh opinion about the missionary movement that brought religion to the island. so for so on.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Michael Bafford

    I downloaded this to my old iPhone 4S over 3 years ago from Feedbooks.com. They got it from Project Gutenberg but cleaned it up very nicely. There were much fewer typos in this book than in the Kindle edition of another book I am currently reading. Huzza Feedbooks! So it sat there in my Bluefire Reader and I picked it up at odd moments - travelling or waiting for someone or something or just for fun. This is a lot of fun and it is episodic so laying it aside for a month or two doesn't really brea I downloaded this to my old iPhone 4S over 3 years ago from Feedbooks.com. They got it from Project Gutenberg but cleaned it up very nicely. There were much fewer typos in this book than in the Kindle edition of another book I am currently reading. Huzza Feedbooks! So it sat there in my Bluefire Reader and I picked it up at odd moments - travelling or waiting for someone or something or just for fun. This is a lot of fun and it is episodic so laying it aside for a month or two doesn't really break the flow. Some passages are related and particularly the Silver Mining days in Nevada - or New Mexico? - got a bit confusing. The ending is very abrupt but up until then it gets better. The final episodes in Hawaii are very fine. I suspect this may be Twain's first published book. He had written short-stories previously but not published anything this long - as far as I know. This is the tale of his early days travelling westward from Missouri along with his brother Orion(!) who had been appointed a high office in the territory of Nevada. "There was no Pacific railroad in those fine times of ten or twelve year ago - not a single rail of it." (p.8) This was probably in 1860 or so. They travel by stage coach, an uncomfortable method but providing some safety and room for luggage. And they began to appreciate the joys of travel - not the least of which is "Schadenfreude" - or skadeglädje as the Swedes say: "...we felt very complacent and conceited, and better satisfied with life after we had added it to our list of things which we had seen and some other people had not." (p.50). Having grown up in Wyoming I was of course interested to see what Mr. Twain had to say of his time there: We passed Fort Laramie in the night, and on the seventh morning out we found ourselves in the Black Hills, with Laramie Peak at our elbow (apparently looming vast and solitary - a deep, dark, rich indigo blue in hue, so portentously did the old colossus frown under his beetling brows of storm-cloud. He was thirty or forty miles away, in reality, but he only seemed removed a little beyond the low ridge at our right. (p.52) Actually he was at quite a remove from the Black Hills which are a hundred miles to the north east. Still, I found this interesting as I grew up in a small town about twice as far away from Laramie Peak but I recognize the description, and very well done it is too. This was the lonely mountain of my childhood and in later years I often watched the cloud patterns to see if I could predict the weather. I couldn't. This was back in the days when Indians were a peril and we are fortunate that Mr. Twain didn't run into Crazy Horse who would be waylaying travellers 10 years later or so, or any of the other braves who kept the driver and his associate nervous and the passengers very nervous indeed. He also: "... passed Sweetwater Creek, Independence Rock, Devil’s Gate and the Devil’s Gap. The latter were wild specimens of rugged scenery, and full of interest—we were in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, now." (p.72). Once in about the 6th grade we took a field trip to Independence Rock and had some fun trying to read the names of travellers who had scratched them there. I saw no Sam Clemens. On into Utah where we get a portion of disreputable Mormon history. And on again to Nevada and beyond. In California, with his friend Higbie, he nearly loses his life while rowing across Mono Lake in a storm. The alkali lake is apparently dangerous to swim in for any length of time. But one of his observations seems strange: "We tried the water in the [tin] canteens, now, and found that the sun had spoiled it; it was so brackish that we could not drink it." (p.218) In some disreputable mining town we hear of the death of prominent citizen Buck Fanshaw: On the inquest it was shown that Buck Fanshaw, in the delirium of a wasting typhoid fever, had taken arsenic, shot himself through the body, cut his throat, and jumped out of a four-story window and broken his neck - and after due deliberation, the jury, sad and tearful, but with intelligence unblinded by its sorrow, brought in a verdict of death "by the visitation of God." What could the world do without juries. (p.267) Buck's funeral has generated its own short story. There are other passages which are worth rereading, as for example the Story of the old ram (p.312). There is very little mention of the civil war going on back East. And what is said is of no historical value. Finally after several hundred pages Mr. Twain escapes the vicissitudes of silver mining and arrives in San Francisco. A month afterward [October 8, 1865] I enjoyed my first earthquake. It was one which was long called the "great" earthquake, and is doubtless so distinguished till this day.... there came a really terrific shock; the ground seemed to roll under me in waves, interrupted by a violent joggling up and down, and there was a heavy grinding noise as of brick houses rubbing together. I fell up against the frame house and hurt my elbow. I knew what it was, now, and from mere reportorial instinct, nothing else, took out my watch and noted the time of day; at that moment a third and still severer shock came, and as I reeled about on the pavement trying to keep my footing, I saw a sight! The entire front of a tall four- story brick building in Third street sprung outward like a door and fell sprawling across the street, raising a dust like a great volume of smoke! (p.346) He goes on to give exciting and comical details of the occurrence. "Reportorial" refers to a newspaper reporter. After further adventures, largely economical, as I recall; he takes passage for Hawaii. He finds the islands generally pleasant to deal with but does have his foibles.: "We found the fish market crowded; for the native is very fond of fish, and eats the article raw and alive! Let us change the subject". (p.393) This is as near to racism as Mr. Twain comes, caring no more for sushi than I do. He speaks also of the contrast between native customs and those introduced - or attempted - by foreign missionaries, with considerable humour. He also experiences "the national pastime of surf-bathing. ... I got the board placed right, and at the right moment, too; but missed the connection myself. - The board struck the shore in three quarters of a second, without any cargo, and I struck the bottom about the same time, with a couple of barrels of water in me." An adventurer, he naturally climbs a volcano to get a good look at the "vision of hell". He goes so far native as to refer to "Pele's furnaces" on the mountain Kilauea. Pele being the Hawaiian goddess of volcanoes. "The smell of sulfur is strong, but not unpleasant to a sinner." (p.446) One of the highlights of his trip is something that many of us experience without ever going to Hawaii. He climbs high onto the crater of the volcano, Haleakala, and gazes down on the clouds. Clear to the horizon, league on league, the snowy floor stretched without a break-not level, but in rounded folds, with shallow creases between, and with here and there stately piles of vapory architecture lifting themselves aloft out of the common plain--some near at hand, some in the middle distances, and others relieving the monotony of the remote solitudes. (p.457) This is something every charter tourist has seen. Though not have all seen the sun rising through the clouds as Mr. Twain did. I was quite impressed with the energy Mr. Twain showed in his travels, often taking the hard road in order to see or experience something uncommon. And his art of description is something out of the ordinary - as well as his humour which is already well in place.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jill

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This is really funny, but really tender and sad at moments too. Twain has a remarkable gift for description, and one passage that struck me as particularly tender was about his fellow "slinker" who had also been a reporter. Both were without any means, and Twain describes him in a very touching way in this excerpt after informing the reader of his sleeping in boxes and getting food whenever he runs into it. "This mendicant Blucher - I call him that for convenience - was a splendid creature. He w This is really funny, but really tender and sad at moments too. Twain has a remarkable gift for description, and one passage that struck me as particularly tender was about his fellow "slinker" who had also been a reporter. Both were without any means, and Twain describes him in a very touching way in this excerpt after informing the reader of his sleeping in boxes and getting food whenever he runs into it. "This mendicant Blucher - I call him that for convenience - was a splendid creature. He was full of hope, pluck and philosophy; he was well read and a man of cultivated taste; he had a bright wit and was a master of satire; his kindliness and his generous spirit made him royal in my eyes and changed his curb-stone seat to a throne and his damaged hat to a crown." I completely disagree with Twain's claim that "Northern California has a landscape that isn't beautiful because any place that maintains a temperature year-round isn't beautiful. Nature requires change to be beautiful and interesting." Being from the Southern Oregon Coast, I take very strong exception to a place's inability to be beautiful unless it has a changing climate. I agree that distinct seasons and changing climate help render a place interesting, but change is certainly not required to be beautiful! However, let him have it the way he writes it, and we'll continue to keep Oregon full of trees and not of people; I quite prefer it that way. Very unexpected were his depictions of Hawaii. I found those simultaneously funny and fascinating. I so enjoy Twain's sketches, and Hawaii definitely gets its fair share. I was struck at the risks he took and thought his account of his show upon his return to SFO was really charming, funny, and tender all at the same time. He sure could write! Appendices A & B are particularly remarkable - especially to anyone LDS. Lastly this read is full of fabulous vocabulary. I enjoyed looking up several words.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.