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Summary

The Mississippi River, known as “America’s River” and Mark Twain are practically synonymous in American culture. The popularity of Twain’s steamboat and steamboat pilot on the ever-changing Mississippi has endured for over a century.

A brilliant amalgam of remembrance and reportage, by turns satiric, celebratory, nostalgic, and melancholy, Life on the Mississippi evokes the great river that Mark Twain knew as a boy and young man and the one he revisited as a mature and successful author. Written between the publication of his two greatest novels, Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, Twain’s rich portrait of the Mississippi marks a distinctive transition in the life of the river and the nation, from the boom years preceding the Civil War to the sober times that followed it.

Samuel Clemens became a licensed river pilot at the age of twenty-four under the apprenticeship of Horace Bixby, pilot of the Paul Jones. His name, Mark Twain, was derived from the river pilot term describing safe navigating conditions, or “mark two fathoms.” This term was shortened to “mark twain” by the leadsmen whose job it was to monitor the water’s depth and report it to the pilot.

Although Mark Twain used his childhood experiences growing up along the Mississippi in numerous works, nowhere is the river and the pilot’s life more thoroughly described than in Life on the Mississippi.

MARK TWAIN (1835–1910) was born Samuel L. Clemens in the town of Florida, Missouri. One of the most popular and influential authors our nation has ever produced, his keen wit and incisive satire earned him praise from both critics and peers. He has been called not only the greatest humorist of his age but the father of American literature.

Public Domain (P)2010 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Critic reviews

“Mark Twain was the first truly American writer, and all of us since are his heirs.” (William Faulkner)
“I believe that Mark Twain had a clearer vision of life…than any other American…I believe that he was the true father of our national literature, the first genuinely American artist of the royal blood.” (H. L. Mencken)

What listeners say about Life on the Mississippi [Blackstone]

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Good narration

Good narration by Grover Gardner who is persuasive as Mark Twain, the author. Will try some more by this voice actor.

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  • Ben
  • 11-09-14

Whispersync deal

Anyone considering this Daily Deal--there are two Kindle editions available, one for a dollar and one for free. Buy the free one, add the Whispersync narration for a dollar, and you get this $5 Daily Deal for $1 =)

(I'll get rid of this review tomorrow until after I have a chance to listen to the book)

19 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Sandra
  • 03-06-11

Fantastic!

Fantastic read, the best narrator yet!! Rates as high as Huck Finn narrated by Elijah Wood and Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume one.

19 people found this helpful

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  • Jean
  • 11-09-14

A meandering tour of the Mississippi River

Of the first fifteen chapters of the book, twelve are reprinted from “The Atlantic.” In the three introductory ones which precede these, the physical character of the river is sketched. The book was published in 1883. The book begins with a brief history of the river beginning with the Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto then on the French Marquette and La Salle.

The most engrossing section describes the author’s education as a steamboat pilot. Vivid details and anecdotes link the story of life on the River. He tells of the odd habits of the steamboat pilots. There is a section on how to read the river including the conformation of the banks, sandbanks, islands and inlets as well as sudden cut outs of the river after storms.

The rest of the book is an account of Twain’s trip down the Mississippi decades later as an old man. He describes the changes in the river and of American during his lifetime. The book is hilarious, fascinating, meandering tour of the Mississippi River most of all the book is entertain. Grover Gardner does an excellent job narrating the book.

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  • Debra Chilcott
  • 18-05-18

Mark Twain and Narrator Grover Gardner

It doesn't get much better than this!! Great place to start your own tour of the marvels of the Mississippi River. Grover, narrate more Twain works, please!

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  • Libby
  • 02-08-21

I think it might be a law...

"I come from a country that raises corn and cotton, cockleburrs and Democrats and frothy eloquence neither convinces nor satisfies me. I am from Missouri. You have got to show me."

It always startles me to learn that someone has not read and loved the works of Mark Twain. I'm pretty sure that the schoolchildren in other states are exposed to Twain's work but we Missourians claim him and are attached to him in ways that the denizens of Elmira NY and Hartford CT can never approach.

I've read and loved "Life On The Mississippi" perhaps a dozen times in my longish life. This version on Audible is just as satisfying as reading it in print. I was especially pleased with Grover Gardner's performance and cannot be the only one who pictures the face of Hal Holbrook when listening to him.

One tiny nit to pick: In Missouri, that one town on the river founded by French settlers is pronounced Cape Ji-RAR- doe, not the perfectly proper, otherwise accurate French pronunciation Gardner gives. But unless you grow up in St. Louis or its environs, there's no way to guess the correct local pronunciations of Gravois, Florissant, or dozens of other ways we've bastardized the language of Moliere.

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  • Yas
  • 28-03-21

Quite the trip indeed

Mark Twain never disappoints with his 'Trip books'. Local or foreign, he takes you on a uncomfortable yet cozy journey down both physical & emotional entities with such uncomplicated ease.

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  • Troy Bryan
  • 14-03-21

Good book

A lot of folk stories by Mr. Twain. The history of steamboats I found fascinating.

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  • Bob in Riverview, Florida
  • 05-10-20

Great narration. Always a great book.

There are so many stories to enjoy t
in this book. I enjoy rereading and listening to it. Do not listen on speaker as this was the 19th century and there is liberal use if racial terms.

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  • Chris Coyne
  • 11-01-16

Life on the river.

A great story. The narrator does a great job. This book had everything. Mark Twain can make any subject interesting.

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  • Eric
  • 24-11-15

Great story.

I find it impossible not to love Mark Twains writing style. Very seldom do I openly laugh during a story, but did several times with this one. I have never "wasted" a credit with MT. Now on to 'The Guilded Age".

*the narrator was great on this one too. Check it out.

1 person found this helpful