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The Gilded Age

3.56 of 5 stars 3.56  ·  rating details  ·  597 ratings  ·  66 reviews
About the Author/bbrbrSamuel Langhorne Clemens, or Mark Twain, as he was better known was born on November 30, 1835 in Florida, Missouri, the sixth child of John Marshall and Jane Lampton Clemens. His father ran a dry goods and grocery store, practiced law and involved himself in local politics after the family's move to Hannibal, Missouri, when Sam was four years old.brbr ...more
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Published January 1st 2010 by MobileReference (first published 1873)
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Jim
I had always wanted to read this book, thinking it was a different sort of novel, perhaps from the point of the wealthy. Also, I had no idea that The Gilded Age was such a serious work. Oh, Mark Twain's humor comes across frequently, especially in the sections taking place in Washington. Unfortunately, Twain had a co-author: the book is signed by both Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warren, his friend.

Twain wrote the first eleven chapters, which were brilliant at times, but the story began to sag
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Steven
I am a huge fan of those novels that satirize the American business man, and we have had a few masters of this genre within the last couple centuries--one of whom only recently passed away, Evan S. Connell. If you haven't read the Mr. and Mrs. Bridge novels, you must!!! They are masterpieces! I am thinking too of Sinclair Lewis's Babbitt, Sloan Wilson's The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit,and William Dean Howells's The Rise of Silas Lapham. All stand in the company of Mark Twain's The Gilded Age.

T
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Wanda
Another treasure discovered at a library buck-a-bag sale. The characters are well drawn, the prose is not turgid...and...not a lot has changed in human affairs in a century and a half.
Sure, it's about politics, corruption, greed, business speculation and credit bubbles, so a main point about reading it is seeing how little anything has changed. But everybody already knows that, human nature being what it is.
Nonetheless, one takes pause when stumbling across lines such as, "She did not know how
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Joseph Soler
This is the first book I assigned in my Modern Novels class because it set the stage for the period of self-proclaimed Modernity by exposing the seedy underbelly behind American "Progress." This is also Mark Twain's first novel which is clear because he has not quite mastered narrative and structure. The book drags a bit at times, but also displays the wit and incisive observation that made Twain a national treasure. The Gilded Age recounts the profound and quite recognizable corruption of the l ...more
Dave
It is not often that one gets to define an age, but that is precisely what Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner did with “The Gilded Age”. As Ward Just points out in his introduction, “The Gilded Age” is “the first (novel about Washington) of consequence in American writing.” The full title of the book is “The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today”, and it was published in 1873. Charles Warner was a good friend of Mark Twain and this is the only novel which Twain collaborated with another writer, and it w ...more
Hadrian
A comic tale of land speculation and greed that is depressingly familiar. "A Novel of Today" indeed. Although this was written in the early ages of the 'Gilded Age' to which it would give its name, before the rise of the great industrial conglomerates and wars of conquest and imperialism, it does reveal the current spirit of corruption and greed.

This is Twain's only collaborative novel, and despite the possible hazards thereof, is actually pretty good. It is fairly obvious when the other guy tak
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Carl
A mostly bitter, unflattering portrait of America after the Civil War. Mark Twain really got around a lot, mixing with about all the social classes, from the bottom up to President Grant. He had a wonderful ear for accents and comical dialogs, and it is worth reading the book just to enjoy the conversations: river boat crewmen, Philadelphia Quakers, Washington high society, jury selection in New York, and on and on.

The book’s plot is ragged, however, and drags in places. The main events of the b
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Jane
What's scary is how much the Washington, DC of this 1873 novel has in common with Washington, DC today!
D.J.
Gave up after 100 pages - just couldn't do it. Not one of his better books, in my opinion.
Christine Boyer
Jun 17, 2012 Christine Boyer rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Political satirists, Twain enthusiasts
I struggled between 3 and 4 stars, great writing, of course, but the story went a little long. Twain actually co-wrote it with Charles Dudley Warner and I wonder if that collaboration made it longer than it would have been (?). Excellent biting satire and parody of politicians, Washington DC, and Congress in 1873. The crazy thing is - the story could have been written in the modern day! Same corruption, pay-offs, etc. Twain was always ahead of his time. This was one of Twain's earliest works - H ...more
John Harder
“Money for nothing and chicks for free,” was the mantra during post Civil War America. The Gilded Age presents a caricature of this attitude, which reveals more truth than if it was played straight. The Gilded Age easily stands on its own, however I would recommend reading a biography of Twain prior to taking on The Gilded Age. Twain pokes fun at the schemers attempting to get rich quick during the post Civil War era. However Twain was no stranger to greed and some of the schemes are reflected i ...more
Deborah
One morning, not so long ago, my slumber was interrupted by a voice from the clock radio, saying, "If you want to understand what's happening in China today, read The Gilded Age by Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner."

My instinctual action upon hearing that fateful alarm was to silence it, and as a result, the connection between post-Civil War America and modern-day China is rather unclear to me. Perhaps the growing wealth and power of China is an illusion, just as the wealth and prominence of
...more
Ed
A good read. A dark satire of post-Civil War United States, where the American Dream isn't quite as reachable as it seems. It follows two groups: The Hawkins family and two young New England men, Philip and Henry. The Hawkins are an incredibly poor Tennessee family living off the promise of wealth from selling their property. Philip and Henry try to make their fortune at land speculation and prospecting for coal. The fulfillment of their promises are always just around the corner, but are always ...more
DenaliViewer-2003
It is hard to imagine that a political story could provide so many laugh-out-loud moments. Having just completed this book, I now cannot imagine anyone who has despised Washington and its politicians more than Mark Twain! His descriptions of the corruption were hysterical (to me) in their full-frontal assault! Based on his opinion, it is difficult to imagine that he was not thrown out of the country … by the politicians that he so thoroughly lambasted! Too funny!

Of course, there were other disho
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Theo Logos
This book gave name to the period of American history from the end of the Civil War to the end of the 19th century. In it, Mark Twain savages the crooked politicians and speculators that characterized this period of spectacular expansion in American capitalism. For this scathing wit, and for Colonel Sellers, one of Twain's own favorite characters, this book is worth reading.
Unfortunately, the gold of Mark Twain's wit is here mixed all too thinly with the dross of the rest of the novel. This book
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Feisty Harriet
In my history classes in school we talked about the “Gilded Age”, a term coined by Twain and Warner in this book and used to represent a culture where major social issues were swept under the rug or thinly veiled with a layer of glitter that was intended to distract the observer from the actual problems. This is a sweeping story of the Hawkins family, their friends, associates, and lovers and their quest for fame and fortune in the last half of the 19th century. The Civil War is over, reconstruc ...more
Jason Williams
Too long for what (little) it accomplishes. I love dry humor so that's not an issue for me. And I do history, so context isn't an issue for me. It's rather funny still, but undoubtedly funnier (and prophetic) in its day, which is undoubtedly why the age became eponymous. In the words of Matt Stone and Trey Parker, Twain and Warner have their heads up their asses with their own message. What's missing here is any serious consideration along America's various ethnic fault lines; all we get are ges ...more
Claudia
This was my summer "should have read this in college and didn't" read, and not a favorite at all...my friend and I read it because it's apparent we've been in another gilded age, with get-rich schemes, unscrupulous politicians, and poor dupes who will fall for anything. I was frustrated through most of this because, as a character-driven reader, I couldn't find anyone to like...I ended up being drawn to Phillip and Ruth and Alice, in a subplot I read was NOT Twain's writing, but his partner's.

H
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George
MOSTLY DISAPPOINTING / DEPRESSING.

“The concert was one of those fragmentary drearinesses that people endure because they are fashionable…”—page 172

Such might also be said of this book. ‘The Gilded Age,’ by Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner is a novel desperately in need of at least one consistently likeable character. Instead it offers up a cast consisting almost exclusively of unpleasant, oily and/or depressing losers—either knaves or fools, all.

To enjoy a read, I need to be able to like/em
...more
Mark Allen
Jan 09, 2008 Mark Allen rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: con-artists and their victims
The Gilded Age lent its name to the period of U.S. History from Grant's presidencies through the turn of the century. I read this book through the lens of "been there, done that" during the web-boom of the late 90s, early oughts.

All of the usual suspects are there: smooth talking confidence artists running scams proposed as "market speculations" in the parlance of the times, corrupt Congresscritters, the vulture capitalists of Wall Street (and Sand Hill Road), and the shifty dealers who paddle i
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David
You know how bad corruption in the U.S. Congress is now? Well, it used to be worse. Or, at least it was less sophisticated and more brazen. Now at least there are a few _relatively_ virtuous legislators such as Patrick Leahy and Henry Waxman. Back in Twain's time, following Lincoln's assassination, I'm not sure there were any. It wasn't just Congress, though; corruption -- brazenly venal -- was throughout the political, judicial and executive branches of government at every level. Maybe we shoul ...more
John

Perhaps Twain's most cynical work yet at the same time one with characters that feel more nuanced; probably due to the influence of co-author C.D. Warner, I might check him out.

An interesting time capsule of American politics and life in the late 19th century, his description of the District of Columbia is a must for anyone who's toured the city in the last few decades.
Shawn Thrasher
A satire, a diatribe, a comedy, a skewering of the 1870s, and according to the introduction of the edition I read, an answer to the sacharine novels being written at the same time. The book is filled many parallels between 1873 and 2011 -- land speculation, greed, schemes, female criminals in the gossipy headlines, government corruption combined with benign oversite. Sam Clemens and his neighbor Charles Warner (I wonder if Sam called him "Chuck" or "Charlie" or "Charles") did not set out to solv ...more
Andrea
"There is something good and motherly about Washington, the grand old benevolent National Asylum for the Helpless." -regarding giving someone a job from your district that is too lazy to find his own job, learn more, etc. but instead throw him at the country and take care of him

"In a free country like ours, where any man can run for Congress and anyb...ody can vote for him, you can't expect immortal purity all the time-it ain't in nature-sixty or eighty or a hundred and fifty people are bound t
...more
Terry
Despite the dated language and caricatures, the subtitle "a Tale of Today" still seems true. Greed and avarice still abound (Wolf of Wall Street, anyone?). What little actual legislating that occurs in congress is done with much back room dealing and there are undoubtedly members whose votes are for sale in some fashion. So the mid-nineteenth century doesn't differ much from the early twenty-first. That's the shame of it.

Makes me wonder what sort of tale Twain might spin if he were alive today.
Scott
Holding this back to become the last of Twain's novels to be read before being able say I've read them all was not a bad choice. Although the book had its moments, it was, overaa, a disappointing read. Hyped as being an expose of a corrupt time much like our own, the chapters with any exposing were very rare. Only one comes to mind. It was easy to tell which chapters were Twain's and which were written by his collaborator. The Warner chapters were almost without exception stilted and uninteresti ...more
Rose
Finally read this. Especially interesting as Mark Twain had a co-writer. Lots of funny bits, but very sad as a whole. A valuable look at the corruption of the original Gilded Age to which parallels to our current times may easily be drawn. This edition included many of the original illustrations.
Le Connell
I read The Gilded Age for the political satire. Little did I know I'd have to read half of the enormous book to reach the meat of the story.
However, the writing is beautiful and the characters likable. The story is a bit tedious at times, but almost always interesting. I laughed out loud a few times but overall I was disappointed by a lack of rich humor. I did enjoy the story and was surprised at how invested I was in the fate of all the characters as the story closed.
What I like most about th
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Somaye Homayoun
به عنوان یه خواننده معمولی انتظار دارم احساساتم با خوندن یه کتاب تحت تاثیر قرار بگیره خصوصا این روزا که همه حس هامو گم کردم انتظار دارم یه کتاب حد اقل چندتا جمله تامل برانگیز داشته باشه و وقتی کتابی رو تمام میکنم تغییری در درونم احساس کنم
اما این کتاب بیشتر شبیه یک گزارش بود یه گزارش از فعالیت های اقتصادی و سیاسی یک گروه از مردم آمریکا در دوران شکوفایی و رشد اقتصادی. دوره ای که وسوسه رسیدن به ثروت هنگفت بدون تلاش آنچنانی مردم زیادی رو سرگرم خودش کرده بود و البته اکثر شخصیت های این کتاب در نهایت ب
...more
Meredith Cenzer
You clever man you. He's a little rye for my taste. He enjoys building up 'classic' story lines then twisting the ending.
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1244
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
...more
More about Mark Twain...
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn The Adventures of Tom Sawyer The Prince and the Pauper A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court The Adventures of Tom Sawyer & Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

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“It is a time when one’s spirit is subdued and sad, one knows not why; when the past seems a storm-swept desolation, life a vanity and a burden, and the future but a way to death. It is a time when one is filled with vague longings; when one dreams of flight to peaceful islands in the remote solitudes of the sea, or folds his hands and says, What is the use of struggling, and toiling and worrying any more? let us give it all up.” 13 likes
“A woman's intuition is better than a man's. Nobody knows anything, really, you know, and a woman can guess a good deal nearer than a man.” 4 likes
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