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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 16 December 2011
The title of this book encouraged me to send for it although I didn't know whether it was going to be interesting for an elderly lady of nearly 86.
Although I have it on Kindle I also sent for the book as I wanted a written record.
I found it thoroughly interesting. Factual, and in some places really funny. The personal experiences related within the book take you back years and yet it is also full of geographical, historical and other data. The author's grasp of human nature was really good too. I could see the old steamboats in my minds eye -0 I wish I could now!! I was completely absorbed with it until I regretfully finished it!!
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on 8 September 2010
This book loosely follows a trip taken by Twain along the length of the Mississippi. The story of the journey is constantly interrupted by short, entertaining tales related to Twain's prior career as a steamboat pilot. I am always impressed with Twain's storytelling abilities, and though this is not like his typical novel, I quickly devoured it. This book may have had additional significance to me considering I spent a decade living along the banks of the Mississippi. Nevertheless, Twain is always great and timeless.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 5 December 2012
Great stories from the pioneering days of american history mixed with the insight of a river steamer pilot into the changing face of the Mississippi. Easy to pick up and put down. Finally it meandered so much I put it down before I'd reached the end.
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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on 28 August 2006
In a lecture at Harvard in 1967, Borges said that over the years, fueled by his enthusiasm for Huckleberry Finn, he had read and re-read Life on the Mississippi. I also started reading this book because I wanted to return to Huck's world, but do not think I will ever re-read it, though undeniably certain passages are evocative and memorable. I did find it tiresomely factual in places. But if you have time to kill and long for Old Man River, there are certainly worse ways to pass the hours.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 27 August 2013
As well as lethally sharp & intelligent powers of observation Mark Twain has a beautiful, compassionate and humane sense of humour, which gets lots of exercise in this wonderful autobiographical book. As well as the wealth of fascinating information he presents about this amazing river, there are numerous hilarious anecdotes about his own training as a steamboat river pilot which reveal the astonishing feats of memory and nerve the job required, piloting boats which often were worth more than $4million in today's money down a river which had no lights to help navigate at night, and which bristled with hazards capable of sinking these floating palaces. The constantly shifting shape and banks and river-bed made the job unimagnably difficult, and no wonder the top pilots were princes of the river. Life on the Mississippi is a wonderfully readable record and celebration of an America which was vanishing even as Mark Twain was writing the book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 20 August 2011
I am nostalgic about this book, and therefore purchased it. The Kindle edition is nice to read and I liked the pictures. This is a great book, masterly yet entertaining and I enjoyed reading after twenty odd years. In short this is a book about life as well as about one of the greatest rivers in the planet.
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on 3 September 2013
Took a Mississippi road trip from Memphis to New Orleans and the book was extremely helpful with the size, shape, hirtage and ever changing nature of the river.
It was full of useful little stories that give a flavour of past lives , told with great panache by one of America's greatest authors. You really need to get a sense of size of the river and its flood plain and this is the book that helps do it, and tells how a River Pilot through sheer determination mastered his art.
The books mixed culture, the civil war and its long term legacy on Civil Rights, the ever changing landscape with something of a prophesy of the future into a still highly readable book. This is a great companion to more modern books on the Great River
and highly recommended if you want a good introduction the US.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 7 December 2011
In this, his fifth novel, Mark Twain satirises Arthurian romance with his inimitable wit. The eponymous Yankee, Hank Morgan, suffers a blow to the head and is sent back in time to sixth-century England. There he learns that the members of Arthur's court are naive, deluded idiots who choose to believe in fantastic deeds and embark on pointless quests simply because it is de riguer to do so.

Turning this perceived idiocy to his advantage, Hank attempts to modernise the culture with the eventual aim of overthrowing the monarchy and installing a democracy. He plans to achieve his goal by subtly subverting and eventually destroying the order of knights and the outdated code of chivalry by which they live their lives. The premise of an invading American forcing his beliefs on an underdeveloped culture is one which seems more relevant today than the day it was written.

Twain uses this time-travelling adventure as a vehicle to criticise facets of Medieval British society, such as the Catholic Church (which he believes hinders technological and social progression), the monarchy and the aristocracy, and to espouse the American ideals of freedom and democracy. 'A Connecticut Yankee...' is an enjoyable and amusing parody of Medieval Romance which doesn't require a knowledge of the genre in order for the reader to enjoy it.
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on 25 March 2014
I certainly would have rated this book at 5 stars had it not been a touch over discursive in places. But this is only a minor criticism. The strength of 'Life on the Mississippi' lies in its portrayal of vanished past ways of living on and along the river. The golden days of the steamboats are detailed along with the lives of the incredibly skilled pilots - superior in status to the captains. There are stories of the crews and passengers including rascally gamblers Boats are lost through explosions, groundings, and shifting snags. A rich absorbing read
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on 7 May 2014
I could not put it down. The language itself takes you to another era. I love travel but in this age, travel like that of Mark Twain is no longer possible. Nowadays speed is of the essence. Then it was accuracy and devotion to a craft. Even the attention to detail is that of a craftsman.
I knew another Mark Twain (I didn't realise till I began reading of his diverse acheivements).
Set aside some precious time. Relax in a peaceful setting and enjoy this wonderful book.
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