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Concerning the Jews Hardcover – 31 Dec 1991

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Hardcover, 31 Dec 1991
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Mark Twain is the pseudonym of Samuel Langhorne Clemens (1835 - 1910). He was born and brought up in the American state of Missouri and, because of his father's death, he left school to earn his living when he was only twelve. He was a great adventurer and travelled round America as a printer; prospected for gold and set off for South America to earn his fortune. He returned to become a steam-boat pilot on the Mississippi River, close to where he had grown up. The Civil War put an end to steam-boating and Clemens briefly joined the Confederate army - although the rest of his family were Unionists! He had already tried his hand at newspaper reporting and now became a successful journalist. He started to use the alias Mark Twain during the Civil War and it was under this pen name that he became a famous travel writer. He took the name from his steam-boat days - it was the river pilots' cry to let their men know that the water was two fathoms deep.

Mark Twain was always nostalgic about his childhood and in 1876 The Adventures of Tom Sawyer was published, based on his own experiences. The book was soon recognised as a work of genius and eight years later the sequel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, was published. The great writer Ernest Hemingway claimed that 'All modern literature stems from this one book.'

Mark Twain was soon famous all over the world. He made a fortune from writing and lost it on a typesetter he invented. He then made another fortune and lost it on a bad investment. He was an impulsive, hot-tempered man but was also quite sentimental and superstitious. He was born when Halley's Comet was passing the Earth and always believed he would die when it returned - this is exactly what happened.

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Essential, but why not get a collection? 14 July 2010
By Bill R. Moore - Published on
Format: Paperback
"Concerning the Jews" is one of Mark Twain's most notable non-fiction works and a landmark in writing about Jews, especially among non-Jews. As with African Americans, Twain's comments are sadly often taken out of context to make him seem anti-Semitic, but "Concerning" undeniably shows that he was a passionate Jewish defender. That said, he predicted that the article would please no one, which was essentially true. As always, Twain was blunt and honest, saying what he thought was good and bad about Jews; the remarkable thing is not that he listed some of the latter, but that the former far outweigh them. Very few people were willing to defend Jews at the turn of the twentieth century - especially publicly, especially among the famous. Twain was, and knowledgeable Jews have never forgotten it. He details their sad history of persecution and suggests reasons for it - ones that many on both sides are unwilling to admit but that are very plausibly argued. Twain then makes suggestions for improvement and closes with a stirring finale of praise. He acknowledges the ill treatment of Jews but is optimistic about change; needless to say, the Holocaust crushed this within half a century. "Concerning" remains valuable even so and should be read by all Jews and anyone interested in them as well as anyone wanting insight into the persistent xenophobia of prejudice and xenophobia. We should all remember Twain's words: "All that I care to know is that a man is a human being - that is enough for me; he can't be any worse."

The fact that the essay is available in collections makes a standalone hard to justify, but Twain fans and many others should get "Concerning" in some form.
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