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A biography of mark twain one of the most controversial authors of all time

Katz Oct 17, 2014 Harry L.

The 10 Best Mark Twain Books

Katz's book, Mark Twain's Americagives a fascinating inside glimpse into the writer using rare illustrations, vintage photographs, maps, and more. Katz picked 10 of Twain's best books. Thanks to the internet and digital publishing, Twain is read more widely now than ever.

His river novels remain required reading for young students, his social commentary and legendary aphorisms appear widely and daily on social networks.

He is considered the most American of writers, and he thought of himself that way. His blistering criticisms of our politics and culture resonate today.


He appealed equally to Main Street and Wall Street, spanning social, economic, and racial divides with brilliant wit and deep conviction. Twain was, in many respects, a man outside his time.

  • Mark Twain uses terms and phrases in his book that were commonly used in his time, but now are considered offensive and even occasionally racist;
  • He was very well famous during his lifetime and lectured in dozens of locations across the country, drawing large audiences.

By stepping back and taking a critical look back through period images and illustrations, we can more fully appreciate his unique character and remarkable contributions. As a visual historian, I find that my favorite Twain books are richly illustrated.

The Impact of Mark Twain

We read of his encounters with Mormons and Pony Express riders, gunslingers and stagecoach drivers along his way. This is classic early Twain: The Gilded Age 1873the novel co-authored by Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner that named the era, is a wonderfully sharp satire on American manners and morals, an early guide to political corruption at the highest levels, with loving word-portraits and humorous illustrations depicting the scoundrels and speculators that drive the plot and American politics.

The river novels come next: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer 1876 and 4. He saw and recalled all matter of humanity from those formative years and poured all of it into these three volumes.

Feudal conventions and institutions and the arrogance of power are blown to smithereens. Twain understood that the Fish Out of Water story a 19th century man somehow transported to medieval England was the perfect vehicle for social commentary.

Twain loved England, and the people of that nation held him in the highest esteem, in spite of his trenchant criticisms of their history and customs. Following the Equator 1897a global travelogue in the Twain style, declares his war on imperialism at home and abroad.

  • In the essay he commented on Mark Twain's writing style saying, "Mark Twain;;;
  • He appealed equally to Main Street and Wall Street, spanning social, economic, and racial divides with brilliant wit and deep conviction;
  • Mark Twain truly is one of the greastest American authors.

On a lecture tour between 1895 and 1896, Twain travels the world, both to cut into his debt-ridden finances and to generate material for his next book. In Australia, New Zealand, India, and South Africa, he finds oppression, superstition, racial animus, and sheer ignorance. By the end of his incredibly active and productive life, Twain was beaten down by age and loss, concluding that we are but flawed creatures; life is a game of dominoes leading inexorably to the end.

Issued by the Mark Twain Project beginning in 2010, it presents the author on his own terms, flaws exposed, short attention span acknowledged, brilliance revealed, the final testament of the most openly human and humane writer we have ever known.