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Who Is Mark Twain?

3.65  ·  Rating Details  ·  316 Ratings  ·  50 Reviews
“[Twain] was, in the phrase of his friend William Dean Howells, ‘the Lincoln of our literature’... At the heart of his work lies that greatest of all American qualities: irreverence.”
Washington Post

“More than 100 years after [Twain] wrote these stories, they remain not only remarkably funny but remarkably modern.... Ninety-nine years after his death, Twain still manages
Paperback, 256 pages
Published April 20th 2010 by Harper Perennial (first published April 21st 2009)
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May 31, 2016 Eileen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american-lit
In 1900 Mark Twain wrote an editorial entitled "The Missionary in World Politics," originally intended for publication in the London Times. Palpable anger smolders beneath the polished veneer of a journalistic conviction intended to persuade the reader over the breakfast table. Now you, complacent Westerner, Twain charges, now you imagine what it would feel like to watch foreigners traverse, uninvited, throughout your homeland, telling your children that your native religion is the sure ticket t ...more
Ben Batchelder
Oct 07, 2012 Ben Batchelder rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While leftovers of a master, the collection is at times hilarious, astute, prejudiced (especially against established religion), but always readable.
Oct 25, 2009 Grace rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you are a fan of Mark Twain, this is the book for you. "Who is Mark Twain" is a collection of essays and short stories never before published for the general reading public.

The introduction to the collection by Robert H. Hirst, General Editor of the Mark Twain Project," is a fantastic introduction to the collection and the author as a person as well as a writer. Twain often spoke of his "literary remains." He rarely disposed of a scrap of paper if he had taken his hand to it to pen his opini
James Williams
My experience with Mark Twain is (I suspect) similar to many others: I was forced to read Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn in school*. To say that I didn't care for them would be an understatement (to this day, Tom Sawyer is my least favorite book in the world because all I can remember about it is forcing myself to read it page-by-agonizing-page in fourth grade).

This shouldn't be a surprise of course. My reading tastes have always leaned more towards swords and sorcery or laser guns and spacesh
Aug 29, 2009 Jeff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mark Twain is perhaps the most quoted American author in history. His one-line adages serve as witticisms for almost any occasion (I've heard him read at weddings and funerals). What we have in this release is a collection of some previously published but mostly unpublished short essays and stories by Twain taken from the almost half million pages of literature that he left behind at his death.

Some essays mirror the hilarity of Twain's traditional style, while others are curt and serious, seemi
Viviana D. Otero
Jan 28, 2011 Viviana D. Otero rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Mark Twain fan
When I first heard about this book, I couldn't stop smiling. I have read everything that Mark Twain wrote, and having this new taste from his grave is a mighty treat indeed. If you are a fan of Samuel Clemens, you MUST pick up this quick read of essays and lectures he decided to publish from the grave. It makes a great Sunday evening read with a glass of wine in hand. Although all the pieces are brilliant, one of my favorite stories in his new book is “The Quarrel in the Strong-Box.” It is a fan ...more
Christy Leskovar
Odd title since this is a collection of sketches by Mark Twain. The best were the conversation between two snow shovelers about Socialists and Anarchists--which was a hoot, and the one about the American newspaper. I listened to the audiobook. John Lithgow was the narrator.
Alix Stricklin
Aug 10, 2009 Alix Stricklin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What fun! This is from a large collection of Twain's collected works, which are gradually being made available to the public. The publisher is very honest that the first few selections are unfinished works - one is practically a draft - so they are not particularly fun to read. BUT, when you get past those, you are into classic Twain. Read "On Postage Rates on Authors' Manuscripts" for a hysterical commentary on Capital Hill. Worth reprinting as a full-page article in the Wall Street Journal - j ...more
Feb 13, 2015 Maryann rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
This book is damn good light reading. Who is Mark Twain? An immensely interesting man with a witty, often dark sense of humor. Many biographies are stuffy things crammed with every minute detail of a person's life. Those are alright... if you're writing a stuffy book report crammed with minute details. This book presents you with the very best of Mark Twain- his writing! And that's all there is to it. It gives us just enough of him to make us want more. This book can be read in just a few hours, ...more
Jun 06, 2013 Keith rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The title is a misnomer. I learned little about Twain from reading this book, in a biographical sense, although I certainly got to know a good deal about his worldview-- particularly his feelings on the media -- through his writing. This book is pretty much all low lows and high highs. It's easy to see why a lot of the content has never been published before but Twain is at his best when discussing his views on journalism. Additionally, one chapter where he describes his run-in with the English ...more
Aug 30, 2009 Peggy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Previously unpublished stories now published 100 years after Twain's death. A few are unfinished, one includes rough notes of speeches, but most are as timely today as they were a century ago. It's an easy read, but definitely do not skip the introductory notes at the beginning of the book, which put the stories into a larger context and also reveal small facts of interest about most of them (though I think I would have preferred to have a small introductory editorial paragraph for each story, i ...more
I'm a big fan of Mark Twain. My alma mater is in Elmira, NY, which makes an appearance in one of final pieces of this collection, so I feel a connection to Twain. There's no doubting that Twain has made an incredible impact on American literature with his novels. Certainly, this collection is not one of those - it was only recently released. But even so, there's still some of that Mark Twain genius in these pieces. I appreciated being able to see the kernels of stories, the snippets of ideas, th ...more
Mardel Fehrenbach
This was a quick entertaining read. It is an interesting collection of Twain's unpublished works and although some of them are quite good, some fall flat and some are just fragments of an idea. Many times the author starts with one theme and wanders off to something else. This is not to say his perambulations are not interesting, but I can see why they were relegated to the unpublished pile. However, when Twain is on, he is on, and some of his observations are priceless, and just as apt today as ...more
Melisa Lizarraga
Mar 24, 2016 Melisa Lizarraga rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This collection of works ranges from quite comical to more cut and dry. It was very pleasant to see Twain's sense of humor come through, and even the more serious pieces had quite a bit of tongue in cheek cheekiness to them. The book itself read rather slow (I think this has more to do with the arrangement and plus the choppy nature of compiling a bunch of short pieces), but it was still really nice to see Twain in his craft.
Mar 22, 2010 Nancy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you are a fan of Mark Twain's, you'll find something to like in this book. However, readers should realize that many of the snippets are just that...notes and drafts of work in progress...that he never finished or published in his lifetime. There are a few gems and the rest is interesting to see how his mind worked. And, as usual with Mark Twain's work, it is as true today as when he wrote.

Overall, a fast read that's worth your time.
Apr 02, 2010 Kosherbaker rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mark Twain left many manuscripts with instructions to not publish until 70 years after his death. Some of those manuscripts have recently been published in this book. The comments are as appropriate for today as they were 100 years ago. Some of his remarks had me laughing out loud, which caused others to ask what was so funny.... then they would write down the name of the book to get a copy. I hope more of these short pieces are published.
Jun 05, 2010 Marc rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
For Twain fans, I'd check out, but I didn't especially find it one of my favorites. The items in here are hit and miss, but the last piece ends the collection well, and there were the usual instances of brilliance that made the entire time spent with the book during the lesser parts worth it, which is the case with many of his works. However, for the uninitiated to Twain's works, I'd start with another book.
I'm a big fan of Mark Twain's non-fiction, so I was intrigued by the concept of this book. However, while it contained a few clever pieces, overall, it didn't really seem to hold up to his larger, finished works. If you are a diehard fan who wants to read every scrap of Twain available, enjoy. But if you are a more casual admirer and want to read his best, go for Innocents Abroad or one of his other major works.
Isaiah Cabañero
Samuel Langhorne Clemens is one funny soul.
Donna Stuedeman
The title of the book is misleading. I thought this was going to offer me a different view of his personality or possibly a humorous auto-biography that he'd written. Instead, it's a group of short stories and essays that were either not completed or never published for a variety of reasons. Some of them are very funny.
Bonnie Brien
Aug 29, 2010 Bonnie Brien rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
Previously unpublished and somewhat unfinished stories/articles/musings from Mark Twain. Loved them, especially "Conversations with Satan," "Jane Austen," "A Group of Servants," "The Undertaker's Tale," "The Music Box," "The Snow-Shovelers, and "Telegraph Dog." Mark Twain is hilarious. I just love his work.
May 31, 2009 Larrycarlin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's always hard to give a book by Mark Twain less than 4 starts. This tidbits range from incompleted sketches to works Twain considered too controversial to publish until long after his death. They show a man deeply concerned about humanity and it's frailties. But also a man with a committed sense of humor.
Nov 27, 2010 Rhapsodyblue00 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I would have liked the opportunity to meet this man. I loved his comments on Jane Austen, the postage rates on author's manuscripts, The missionary in world politics. This was a fast entertaining little book. I believe anyone who has ever read any of his works would enjoy this very much.
Christopher Rex
Mark Twain's social commentary is brilliant. He was so ahead of his time in so many ways and was completely unafraid to voice his opinions. This is not the best collection of his writings, but basically anything by Mark Twain is worth reading. Wait for the softcover and/or find it used, though.
Jul 20, 2009 Jeff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a free read on

It is a compilation of unpublished works of Mark Twain.

I enjoyed the book, but probably not enough to buy the book. I think some of the stories/essays were never published for good reason. Others were more memorable.
Jul 22, 2009 Emily rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some of the essays/stories were really good and some were pretty mediocre. But they're unfinished, so I wouldn't rate a man's genius based on this collection. I particularly liked "On Postage Rates on Authors’ Manuscript" and "The Undertaker’s Tale."
Jul 12, 2009 Daniel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It contains 24 previously unpublished Twain essays. Some are partial drafts that he didn't complete. Others he wrote and put aside as possibly too controversial. I enjoyed it, but it's for the experienced Twain reader not the place to begin the acquaintance.
Sep 04, 2009 Donna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This collecion of Twain's unpublished works is a must for dedicated Twain fans and a great read for those of us who simply get a kick out of his acerbic humor. His essay on Jane Austin is a classic--too bad is was never finished or published.
A short introduction about Mark Twain and his works followed by short stories written by Twain. I enjoyed Lithgow's interpretation of the stories. His voice is fabulous! Truly humorous! I look forward to reading more of Twain's works.
Andy Plonka
Dec 25, 2012 Andy Plonka rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a collection of unpublished pieces by Twain which were not allowed to be published until 100 years after his death so it bears a 2009 publication date. His comments are remarkably spot on and humourous even today
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Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known by his pen name Mark Twain, was an American author and humorist. He is noted for his novels Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885), called "the Great American Novel", and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876).

Twain grew up in Hannibal, Missouri, which would later provide the setting for Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer. He apprenticed with a printer. He also work
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