Life on the Mississippi

By Mark Twain,

Book cover of Life on the Mississippi

Book description

Life on the Mississippi (1883) is a memoir by Mark Twain of his days as a steamboat pilot on the Mississippi River before the American Civil War. It is also a travel book, recounting his trip up the Mississippi River from New Orleans to Saint Paul many years after the…

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Why read it?

2 authors picked Life on the Mississippi as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Life on the Mississippi is the autobiographical story of Mark Twain’s career as a steamboat pilot on the Mississippi River in the mid-1800s.

I first read this book when living in the French Quarter in the 1990s and could hear ship horns out on the river as I took in Twain’s fascinating, often silly and sarcastic narrative about his life and the river.

When describing New Orleans cemeteries, Twain writes, “Many of the cemeteries are beautiful, and are kept in perfect order. When one goes from the levee or the business streets near it, to a cemetery, he observes…

It is no secret that Mark Twain loved the Mississippi River. Most of us know this from his classic novel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. But Life on the Mississippi, Twain’s memoir of his youthful adventures as a steamboat pilot in training published in 1883, gives us a deeper picture not only of the author but also the Mississippi.

Like a meandering current, Twain weaves together a historic journey of the river, life on a steamboat, the changing landscape, and the challenges of navigation. Throw in a few tall tales and signature Mark Twain philosophy, and you feel…

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