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Extended Audio Sample Life on the Mississippi Audiobook, by Mark Twain Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (4,988 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Mark Twain Narrator: Michael Prichard Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: December 2010 ISBN: 9781452670478
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A brilliant amalgam of remembrance and reportage, by turns satiric, celebratory, nostalgic, and melancholy, Life on the Mississippi evokes the great river that Mark Twain knew as a boy and young man and the one he revisited as a mature and successful author.

Written between the publication of his two greatest novels, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Twain’s rich portrait of the Mississippi marks a distinctive transition in the life of the river and the nation, from the boom years preceding the Civil War to the sober times that followed it.

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Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jennifer | 2/18/2014

    " This was a fun read! Mark Twain is hilarious, as always. It's nice to know how he got his start (and his pen name!). "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Alan Jacobs | 2/13/2014

    " This book really bogs down around 40% of the way through. Mark Twain starts with a grand description of the history of the river, reminiscent of McPhee describing, say, New Jersey. Then it becomes a memoir or Twain's time as a pilot on the a Riverboat in the 1840s-1850s, and he tells lots of interesting tales. But then he switches to talking about a current (1880s) trip on the river and how all the towns have changed, and how much bigger they all are, and how the nature of boating on the river has changed. And Mark Twain sounds like your boring grandmother talking about the good ol' days. Not something you want to read a lot about. I couldn't wait for the book to be over. And I merely skimmed the appendices, although appendix D was not too bad--it contained a supposed Indian legend about a giant bear. It almost sounds like something out of the Mahabarata--seems like a fantastical Hindu tale rather than American Indian lore. In fact, I might go back and re-read it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rachel | 2/10/2014

    " This is the first Twain I have read that is nonfiction. And I didn't realize it was until I began reading. It is so great! He makes a topic I could care less about so fascinating. I love his word usage. It feels like he is having a conversation with you. It really makes the 1800's seem not so different from the 21st century. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Aaron | 2/4/2014

    " Twain on the river as a kid. Twain back on the river again as a sneaky pete writer. I wanted to like this book, which is why, I suppose, I hung in for 350-odd pages before setting it aside. The book is entertaining intermittantly and occasionally sharp and funny but it meanders. I should probably have my keyboard revoked for using the word 'meander' in a review about a book about a river, but clearly I can't help myself. Seriously, tho, Twain needed an editor with a heavy hand for this one. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Spencer Pforsich | 2/2/2014

    " Bottom line: I like Twain, but I just don't care that much about river boats. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 George | 2/1/2014

    " Twain himself was a river boat captain, and this hilarious account of that experience, which is exaggerated brilliantly, is a window into a career and a lifestyle that is gone now. Completely gone. There were thousands of river boats at one time, and thousands of captains who had to memorize a thousand miles of river to navigate them in daylight and in the dark. The train made all of them obsolete. If you have ever gone back to your college dorm 20 years later to find it is now a parking lot, or your childhood home to find it is a three-story condo, you will appreciate Twain's warm nostalgia for this life which so colored his youth, but disappeared completely in just a couple of decades. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mark Hinds | 1/30/2014

    " Any and everything by Mark Twain is terrific. My favorite author. You need a variety, try Adam and Eve's Diary, and Captain Stormfield's Visit to Heaven as especially good short stories. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Patrick\ | 1/25/2014

    " Colorful memoir, good writing, good read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Patrick\ | 1/24/2014

    " Colorful memoir, good writing, good read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Stuart | 1/19/2014

    " Second half drifts into an oxbow but the first half is a wonderfully written (and satisfyingly geeky) treatise on the art and science of steamboat-driving. A great memoir. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Scott Gill | 1/14/2014

    " Hilarious and informative...if you love Twain, you'll love this one. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Hannah | 1/6/2014

    " wasnt my fave but not unbearable "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Rick | 12/29/2013

    " The first third of the book was great. The stories about the Mississippi river pilots were very interesting. The second two thirds were verry slow. There were a few interesting side stories, but the rest was boring. I guess if you lived in some of areas mentioned it would be of interest. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jen | 12/25/2013

    " This book was a rambling and slow as the river it describes. While I enjoyed it from a English scholar perspective (in its connections to Huck Finn and as a demonstration of Twain's style), I would not read this unless it were required. His nuggets of comedy are great, but can be easily missed among the disjointed stories and paragraphs. I needed a plot and this was a memoir without a clear sense of direction. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Aaron | 12/24/2013

    " Twain on the river as a kid. Twain back on the river again as a sneaky pete writer. I wanted to like this book, which is why, I suppose, I hung in for 350-odd pages before setting it aside. The book is entertaining intermittantly and occasionally sharp and funny but it meanders. I should probably have my keyboard revoked for using the word 'meander' in a review about a book about a river, but clearly I can't help myself. Seriously, tho, Twain needed an editor with a heavy hand for this one. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jennifer | 12/11/2013

    " This was a fun read! Mark Twain is hilarious, as always. It's nice to know how he got his start (and his pen name!). "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Rachel | 9/26/2013

    " A quirky set of anecdotes and tall tales about life in the South. At this point, it's more fascinating as a primary source rather than as a literary work. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jaimie Tuchman | 9/23/2013

    " This is a timeless classic. It's very well written and I often found myself laughing out loud! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Melinda | 9/21/2013

    " This was a very informative book written by Twain about his boyhood. I found it really fascinating even if it plodded along slowly sometimes. It was worth the time it took to get through it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Larryponder | 7/21/2013

    " Life on the Mississippi was fun to read! I liked his country sense of humor floating as a riverboat pilot down the Mississippi. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jean | 6/4/2013

    " A great combination of droll humor, information, and a glimpse into the past. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Klgg | 5/6/2013

    " Read this when I was 14 and learned how to pilot a boat. It is a fascinating read! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Klgg | 4/25/2013

    " Read this when I was 14 and learned how to pilot a boat. It is a fascinating read! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Todd | 4/16/2013

    " So far, great book if you skip the first two chapters. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 George Godbey | 12/14/2012

    " Mostly autobiographic, this is an interesting and fun read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Joe | 9/16/2012

    " Excellent yarn about a part of the world we know so little about. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Gijs | 7/26/2012

    " Niet uitgelezen. Reisverslag van Mark Twain die terugkeert naar de Mississippi, waar hij een groot deel van zijn jeugd heeft doorgebracht. De jeugdherinneringen zelf zijn verreweg het mooist. Ook mooi is een kort verhaal over een schat. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mark Hinds | 7/25/2012

    " Any and everything by Mark Twain is terrific. My favorite author. You need a variety, try Adam and Eve's Diary, and Captain Stormfield's Visit to Heaven as especially good short stories. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kent Horner | 6/20/2012

    " Mark Twain is a great story teller. There's a lot more to piloting a steamboat than I had ever imagined. Prior to the Corp of Engineers taming the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, life on these rivers were no picnic. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jen | 6/6/2012

    " There were a few amusing parts, but mostly it was tedious. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Valerie | 2/24/2012

    " Beautiful tribute to the Mississippi River and America in general. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Joseph | 9/27/2011

    " The title led me to believe it would be light and breezy, and instead what I got was almost a technical essay, firstly on the intricacies of steamboat piloting, and then of the various stops along the river. Laboured, if nothing else. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 George Manning | 8/18/2011

    " I read this in the spring of 2011. With the flooding on the lower Mississippi this year it was interesting to compare Twain's observations to what happened this year. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sharman | 2/14/2011

    " This book is Twain's telling of the history of the Mississippi River. Although I enjoyed many of his "tales" there were several long tedious sections as well. I actually caught myself whispering, "blahdy, blahdy, blah" through those sections. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Gijs | 7/2/2009

    " Niet uitgelezen. Reisverslag van Mark Twain die terugkeert naar de Mississippi, waar hij een groot deel van zijn jeugd heeft doorgebracht. De jeugdherinneringen zelf zijn verreweg het mooist. Ook mooi is een kort verhaal over een schat. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 betsy | 1/17/2009

    " I had to give up on this; it was soooo tedious and repetitive. It might be a lot better later in the book but I didn't make it that far. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Melissa | 3/14/2008

    " Rather tedious disjointed and long. This is the first Mark Twain book I haven't enjoyed very much. Got as far as about chapter 53. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lexie | 10/18/2007

    " We are leaning about the mississippi "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 David Schilling | 1/23/2007

    " I've read the popular Twain books but this is very special b/c he describes the Mississippi and the way it changes day by day, month by month, year by year in great detail. Can't put this one down. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Doug Smith | 6/28/2005

    " Another of my favorite Twain books. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Bob | 5/10/2003

    " The first half is the best American nonfiction writing I knew best. The is the art book on Mississippi River paddle wheeler piloting. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ritta | 10/27/2002

    " You simply cannot go wrong with a book by Mark Twain. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Joe | 1/12/2002

    " Excellent yarn about a part of the world we know so little about. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jennifer | 3/11/2000

    " Twain's wit, way with words, understated humor made this book very appealing to me. Plus I learned about Mississippi River history. "

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About the Author
Author Mark Twain

Mark Twain, pseudonym of Samuel L. Clemens (1835–1910), was born in Florida, Missouri, and grew up in Hannibal on the west bank of the Mississippi River. He attended school briefly and then at age thirteen became a full-time apprentice to a local printer. When his older brother Orion established the Hannibal Journal, Samuel became a compositor for that paper and then, for a time, an itinerant printer. With a commission to write comic travel letters, he traveled down the Mississippi. Smitten with the riverboat life, he signed on as an apprentice to a steamboat pilot. After 1859, he became a licensed pilot, but two years later the Civil War put an end to the steam-boat traffic.

In 1861, he and his brother traveled to the Nevada Territory where Samuel became a writer for the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise, and there, on February 3, 1863, he signed a humorous account with the pseudonym Mark Twain. The name was a river man’s term for water “two fathoms deep” and thus just barely safe for navigation.

In 1870 Twain married and moved with his wife to Hartford, Connecticut. He became a highly successful lecturer in the United States and England, and he continued to write.

About the Narrator

Michael Prichard is a Los Angeles-based actor who has played several thousand characters during his career, over one hundred of them in theater and film. He is primarily heard as an audiobook narrator, having recorded well over five hundred full-length books. His numerous awards and accolades include an Audie Award for Tears in the Darkness by Michael Norman and Elizabeth M. Norman and six AudioFile Earphones Awards. He was named a Top Ten Golden Voice by SmartMoney magazine. He holds an MFA in theater from the University of Southern California.