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Download Life on the Mississippi Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample Life on the Mississippi, 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: Grover Gardner Publisher: Craig Black Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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The Mississippi River, known as “America’s river,” and Mark Twain are practically synonymous in American culture. The popularity of Twain’s steamboat and steamboat pilot on the ever-changing Mississippi has endured for over a century.

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, Tom Sawyer and 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.

Samuel Clemens became a licensed river pilot at the age of twenty-four under the apprenticeship of Horace Bixby, pilot of the Paul Jones. His name, Mark Twain, was derived from the river pilot term describing safe navigating conditions, or “mark two fathoms.” This term was shortened to “mark twain” by the leadsmen whose job it was to monitor the water’s depth and report it to the pilot.

Although Mark Twain used his childhood experiences growing up along the Mississippi in numerous works, nowhere is the river and pilot’s life more thoroughly described than in Life on the Mississippi.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Mark Twain was the first truly American writer, and all of us since are his heirs.”

    William Faulkner

  • “I believe that Mark Twain had a clearer vision of life…than any other American…I believe that he was the true father of our national literature, the first genuinely American artist of the royal blood.”

    H. L. Mencken

  • “Listeners who enjoyed Grover Gardner’s narrations of Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer will savor this journey down the mighty Mississippi with the author of those American classics. Twain’s experiences as a young steamboat pilot, recounted herein, would inform the novels that cemented his reputation. Gardner’s easy familiarity with Twain’s style is evident once more: He captures all of the author’s wit and wordplay as well as his colorful descriptions of the era just before the Civil War. Gardner gives some rollicking performances as he brings to life the book’s memorable characters, with their gruff voices and varied accents. The text can be as meandering as the river itself, but Gardner’s first-rate narration keeps the listener on course.”


  • An AudioFile Editors’ Pick for Best Audiobooks for Travelling

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Annette | 2/20/2014

    " Nice for a historical view of the Mississippi River. My family is also from Hannibal, MO, like Mark Twain. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Sharman | 2/1/2014

    " 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. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Patrick | 1/30/2014

    " p.31 "All I desired to ask Mr. Bixby was the simple question whether he was ass enough to really imagine he was going to find that plantation on a night when all plantations were exactly alike and all of the same color. But I held in. I used to have fine inspirastions of prudence in those days." "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Rick | 1/30/2014

    " 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. "

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