Mark Twain: A Life – Book Review

Title: “Mark Twain: A Life”

by Ron Powers

Published by Free Press (2006)

Powers has done such a marvelous job with this book that you sometimes feel you’re in the room with Samuel Clemmons and his family.  So many references to his work and letters make you feel as if you’re talking with him or at least a silent participant in his conversations.  Powers follows Twain from his humble beginnings in Florida, MO; travels with him out West then to the Northeast and covers his travels around the world.  He brings you into Twains thought process as he develops his well-known and more obscure works.  You also get to follow the development of his relationships with family, friends, and peers.  Some of these at times very tempestuous.  Powers shows how Twain’s environment affected his writing and thinking:  from the hardcore, calvinistic preaching at a local Presbyterian church, to the river influence, to the technology of the day. All of these elements, plus more affected his writing.  This substantial book at 700+ pages is a must read for the Mark Twain enthusiast.

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