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on 26 June 2016
I am a huge fan of Mark Twain's books but in my opinion this is not one of his best. It took a long time to get going and was filled with information about Mormons and mining. but without the light touch and dry humour I have come to associate with Mark Twain. I was almost half way through the book before I laughed but I was nursing a cold so perhaps that had something to do with it! It won't stop me reading his other books, though.
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on 27 February 2017
The book itself is great. The format in which it is sold is awful. Imagine writing it up in Word and then printing it out yourself in A4. Then binding it yourself and selling it as an actual, published book. Not fit for retail.
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on 3 May 2017
Avoid this version of "Roughing It". It is incomplete - literally. It ends mid sentence mid word in chapter 42 on page 127.
(But the story up to that point is very entertaining, well worth reading, buy from another publisher).
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on 5 April 2017
This is a very badly designed book. It's huge with small, close-set type which runs to twenty plus words a line and is a trial to read - a pity as its Mark Twain at his best. Well worth reading but I'd opt for a standard paperback edition.
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on 23 December 1998
This book is better than the equivelent of sending Walter Kronkite to the Wild West to investigate it's doings. Mark Twain, ever the great poet/humorist, embarks into the real world of the West with as much excitement and curiosity as you or I would have via an Overland Stagecoach. While he is at this occupation, he develops a dozen more, including propecting and newpaper reporting, being destitute, and being fabulously rich. Everywhere his gaze is turned is carefully recorded and sent 'back-home' to you and I as though it were a personal letter through the post! His humor and insight is actually the finest of his entire career; the personal feeling, yearning, passion, and pathos of his descriptions are more poetic than the bards of all time. On his journey from Springfield, Missouri, to find out what life will become--and with WHAT, and IN what--he accompanies his brother Orion, just appointed secretary to the Governor of the Nevada territories by President Lincoln, to conveniently become the secretary's secretary. An occupation, predictably short-lived. Upon arrival young Sam Clemens, a recent riverboat pilot turned Confederate Soldier gone AWOL is as set free as a snake from a cardboard box. No one on earth could have taken advantage of the wild possibilities that beckoned from the new frontier better than Sam Clemens. Sam was as a man gone there intentionally in a time machine and was exultant to begin his plans---and coming-up with them on his arrival. He wrote home that he would never return to Missouri until he had become a rich man, and THAT from the silver mines that peppered the entire mountain ranges of Nevada of that day. One has the incredible opportunity to view through Mark Twain's eyes the true West and at the same time view Mark Twain and what influence it was having upon HIM. At just the saving moment of the demise of his grandiose plans he becomes a newspaper correspondent from Hawaii, and, without ever having the knowledge himself, explores from one American frontier to the next. While in Hawaii he wrote in unparalelled prose the majesty he witnessed there. He tells of the history and collects the information that would later become the substance of his first lecture tour, and what would become the most celbrated literary career in the 19th century, and to some: of all time. This is Mark Twain's finest book.
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on 29 June 2012
Writing the follow-up to "Innocents Abroad" wasn't as easy as Twain expected to be. His memory of many of the events, which took place before those in "Innocents Abroad" wasn't as good as he thought. Nevertheless, with the aid of his brother's diary he pieced together some wonderful adventures. The result is "Roughing It", which covers Twain's life in the early and mid 1860s, from the point at which he came out to Nevada (Territory) through his prospecting for silver and gold, a trip to the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii), and of course more than enough on Salt Lake City and the Mormons.

Throughout the79 chapters and 3 appendices of "Roughing It", Twain takes the reader on adventures too numerous to even attempt to cover in this review. As with many of his works, he finds humor in being human. Twain has no problem poking fun at religious organizations either, and in "Roughing It", it is the Mormons who are under attack of his pen. With at least six chapters and two of the appendices on the Mormons, I think it is fair to say that Twain does not hold back his scathing wit at all.

As with the other books in the series, it starts with a Foreword by Shelley Fisher Fishkin. The series also includes both an "Introduction" and "Afterword" by other writers, and in the case of "Roughing It" the "Introduction" is by George Plimpton, and the "Afterword" is by Henry B. Wonham. These are usually enjoyable reads and provide the reader with some interesting information about the book between the two, but of course the main course is the book itself.

While not at the level of "Innocents Abroad", "Roughing It" has plenty of wonderful moments. I suspect it is somewhat overshadowed by its predecessor given that it has a similar format of relating tales of Twain's travels. As a result, it seems as if it is always compared with "Innocents Abroad" and its reputation ends up suffering because though it isn't as good, it is not far behind.
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on 3 June 1999
This edition is the Library of Mark Twain published by the University of California. They are by far the best editions available, but regrettably they are slow in releasing them. You won't be sorry.
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on 21 January 1997
Before Clint Eastwood tore apart the mythic West in Unforgiven, Mark Twain's travelogue/novel portrayed the West as a humorous, amorally violent, rapacious, and racist land of opportunity, not all of it good. Most people would characterize the West like that now: testament to the staying power of Twain's prose. The "Genuine Mexican Plug" and "Lost in the Snow" episodes are magnificient. Roughing It also acts as a satirical outrider for Huck Finn. If you want the feel of a stage-coach, read the first section whenever you travel, just as George Plimpton does in his Introduction.
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on 28 July 2010
This is a most surprising autobiographical account of Mark Twain's early life as a gold miner. Full of delightful vignettes, humour and heartbreak it is a superb account of success and failure in building the American Dream,

In Hollywood it is within yourself to be the best and to succeed at anything your heart really wants, but in the rest of the world this is derided as claptrap since it is obvious that everyone cannot be successful at everything and the evidence of failure is all around to be seen. But should we live lives of fulfilled realism or of continually dashed hopes spiced by opportunity? There is no truth in either point of view since both are valid and together represent one of life's tensions - is it better to have tried and failed than never to have tried at all?

Roughing it is Mark Twain's brilliant and hilarious autobiographical review of this argument seen through America's 1860 Midwest covering his unlikely and incredible career prior to becoming a successful author. In the process he shows how the American dream is full of the nightmare of failure where for every triumph, including his own, dozens are left behind in despair and living rough.

The book concerns the time Twain spent as a gold and silver prospector prior to success as an author and is partly an autobiography and partly a series of stories about the people he met or learnt about in the American west. This is beautifully and loving written, describing the wide variety of unlikely characters inhabiting this world. Twain delightfully evokes accents and voices creates a completely convincing world where his soft sympathy with the many unfortunate individuals that cross his path is a running theme. Twain's understated and dry humour makes the book a tour de force.

He retains his feel for the human struggle as fortunes are made and lost by an unpatentable combination of skill, luck and application and Twain manages to recreate his own blackest moments with complete authenticity. He cleverly and soulfully conveys the human experience of fear mingled with hope and comfort in small things with which we are all familiar.

This is a really marvelous piece of prose that I strongly recommend and is the perfect antidote to the High School Musical view that the world is there for your taking, not because it trashes that hypothesis but because it puts it in a real world context. This book is an adult take on the search for success and how it is paid for.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 25 May 2014
Mark Twain’s collected (and extensive at nearly 600 pages) ramblings of his time as gold prospector, financial speculator, sailor and budding journalist in the American west are a, by turns, eccentric and darkly comic account, fictionalised, but based on Twain’s own direct experiences of the time he spent in Nevada, Salt Lake City and Hawaii. By its nature, being (partly) a collection of writings published in journals, and its lengthy production process, Roughing It does (at times) come across as rather episodic and disjointed, but Twain’s account is never less than intriguing, educational and frequently hilarious.

Because of the book’s subject matter, Roughing It often reminded me of some of Jack London’s (similarly) semi-autobiographical travel writing, whilst, in terms of the larger-than-life and eccentric characterisations portrayed, I detected echoes of Dickens. The book also draws out some of Twain’s political and social philosophies around racial discrimination and anti-imperialism (in the process belying the fallacy of the American Dream), as well as including a particularly absorbing diatribe against the potential exploitative impact of the press.
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