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Extended Audio Sample Mark Twain: A Life Audiobook, by Ron Powers Click for printable size audiobook cover
3.88 out of 53.88 out of 53.88 out of 53.88 out of 53.88 out of 5 3.88 (26 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Ron Powers Narrator: Ron Powers Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: September 2005 ISBN: 9780743552189
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In Mark Twain, Ron Powers consummates years of research with a tour de force on the life of our culture's founding father. He offers Sam Clemens as he lived, breathed, and wrote. With the assistance of the Mark Twain Project at Berkeley, he has drawn on thousands of letters and notebook entries, many only recently discovered.

Sam Clemens left his frontier boyhood in Missouri for a life on the Mississippi during the golden age of steamboats. He skirted the western theater of the Civil War before taking off for an uproarious drunken newspaper career in the Nevada of the Wild West. As his fame as a humorist and lecturer spread around the country, he took the East Coast by storm. He wooed and won his lifelong devoted wife, yet quietly pined for the girl who was his first crush. He became the toast of Europe and a celebrity who toured the globe. His comments on everything he saw, many published here for the first time, are priceless.

The man that emerges in Powers's brilliant telling is both the magnetic, acerbic, and hilarious Mark Twain of myth and a devoted friend, husband, and father. Mark Twain left us our greatest voice. Samuel Clemens left us one of our most American of lives. Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Wise and lively…Powers makes sense of this crowded, whipsawing life…[a] grave and lovingly respectful treatment.” 

    New York Times Book Review

  • “Powers has given us the whole man. We feel we know him, as well as we can, as well as his most perceptive friend and fellow writer William Dean Howells knew him. Along the way Powers brings to vivid life Twain’s America…No biography of Mark Twain could do him full justice. Powers’ comes as close as you can imagine.” 

    Los Angeles Times

  • “[An] enormous, enjoyable volume…Powers’ immensely rich book, the record of an epic, perplexing life, succeeds above all in freshening up one’s appetite for Twain’s own pungent prose and his magnificently challenging wit.” 

    Guardian (London)

  • “The special joy of Ron Powers’ Twain is not just that it’s comprehensive but also that it places this great novel and its author in their proper historical context, and shows how life and work played against each other.” 

    Observer (London)

  • A 2005 National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist
  • A 2005 New York Times Book Review Notable Book

Listener Opinions

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Andrea Walker | 2/12/2014

    " I have no interest in Mark Twain. Now I know. I'll be sure to remove any other Twain things from my reading lists. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Matt B | 2/12/2014

    " Nothing yet, I just started. A friend of mine said I was a lot like Mark Twain. I didn't know what that meant but I trust his judgement so I bought the book. So far he seems like a kook. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Alex | 2/5/2014

    " Loved this book! What a fascinating life. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Brinlie Clark | 2/5/2014

    " I think all biographies are long so in comparison it was pretty good. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Gwen | 2/4/2014

    " an interesting fella "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jed Park | 2/2/2014

    " A very solid biography. I confessed that I listened to it on tape. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jack Apfel | 1/11/2014

    " This is an in depth and well written biography that I plan to read again. For me it was even better because I liked the subject, Mark twain/Sam Clemens even more at the end of the book. this is not always true of biographies. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mary-Ellen | 1/8/2014

    " This book is more interesting if the index is used to find topics of interest. I find that I pick up the book every now and then and will do this. Whatever I read is interesting. But when I read the book from the beginning, it seemed tedious. Twain is an interesting life, no doubt. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Dianne | 12/24/2013

    " Then I became a fan of Mark Twain. He was an irreverent, fascinating man. His life is as eventful and colorful as any of his novels, just as plain and straightforward. He was a genius in a plain wrapper. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Corey | 12/16/2013

    " What a fascinating life this man led, and the changes he witnessed in his lifetime! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kate | 10/8/2013

    " A bit slow/too much information at times but an interesting look at his life with context of contemporary writers and times "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Rick | 1/30/2013

    " Detailed biography of the man behind the stories. It is interesting in learning about his background how he created the characters that later became the great stories. Well written book and worth the read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Peter | 10/3/2012

    " An interesting read that paralleled Twain's development as a writer with the development of American literature as it departed from the old world and established its own style. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Booksrock | 5/26/2012

    " New information--but he is a little over the top with his vocabulary. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kim Headlee | 5/23/2012

    " In a word, brilliant. Ron Powers not only captured details of Twain's life, but he did it in a way Twain himself might have done, with wry wit and aplomb. A must-read for anyone seeking to broaden their understanding of this 19th century American treasure. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ann Marie | 4/4/2012

    " Done! Conquered the tome! Bring on Hartford. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Bob | 1/20/2012

    " Ron Powers did a fantastic job of providing a rich and interesting story of Mark Twain's stories and adventures in his book. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Amber Beaman | 8/25/2011

    " The writing is good...but damn, Mark Twain was a dick. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mark Stevens | 7/9/2011

    " Mark Train was a freaking rockstar and a thoroughly American original. Powers does a great job. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Alex | 4/21/2011

    " Loved this book! What a fascinating life. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kate | 3/15/2011

    " A bit slow/too much information at times but an interesting look at his life with context of contemporary writers and times "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Lisel | 1/7/2011

    " couldn't finish it. Mark Twain is as witty and refreshing as Ron Powers is dull and dreary "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Chuck | 11/10/2010

    " Powers searched through Twain's letters, newspaper articles thoroughly and has come up with one of the best biographies I've read "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Andrew | 8/22/2010

    " Started this book, but lost it in a house fire (long story). I'm going to need to pick up another copy; from what I read I was really into it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Peter | 5/13/2010

    " An interesting read that paralleled Twain's development as a writer with the development of American literature as it departed from the old world and established its own style. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Booksrock | 8/6/2009

    " New information--but he is a little over the top with his vocabulary. "

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About the Author
Author Ron PowersRon Powers is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist. He is the author of White Town Drowsing and Dangerous Water: A Biography of the Boy Who Became Mark Twain. He lives in Vermont.