Download The Trouble Begins at 8: A Life of Mark Twain in the Wild, Wild West Audiobook

The Trouble Begins at 8: A Life of Mark Twain in the Wild, Wild West Audiobook, by Sid Fleischman Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: Sid Fleischman Narrator: Joe Barrett Publisher: AudioBookShelf Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: May 2017 ISBN: 9781620645697
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Mark Twain was born fully grown, with a cheap cigar clamped between his teeth. So begins Sid Fleischman’s ramble-scramble biography of the great American author and wit, who started life in a Missouri village as a barefoot boy named Samuel Clemens.

Abandoning a career as a young steamboat pilot on the Mississippi River, Sam took a bumpy stagecoach to the far West. In the gold and silver fields, he expected to get rich quick. Instead, he got poor fast, digging in the wrong places. His stint as a sagebrush newspaperman led to a duel with pistols. Had he not survived, the world would never have heard of Tom Sawyer or Huckleberry Finn—or redheaded Mark Twain.

Samuel Clemens adopted his pen name in a hotel room in San Francisco and promptly made a jumping frog—and himself—famous. His celebrated novels followed at a leisurely pace, his quips at jet speed: “Don’t let schooling interfere with your education,” he wrote.

Here, in high style, is the story of a wisecracking adventurer who came of age in the untamed West—an ink-stained rebel who surprised himself by becoming the most famous American of his time.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “[A] wonderfully well-told account of Twain’s formative years, his entertaining fabrications, and a bewitching procession of ornery riverboat pilots, perilous stagecoach journeys, and quixotic quests for gold. It is so buoyantly written that the author seems to have been visited by the charming and restless spirit of young Twain himself.”

    Washington Post

  • “The trouble—entertaining trouble indeed—begins on page one as Fleischman brings our national comedic treasure to life.”

    Horn Book

  • “Fleischman nearly channels Mark Twain’s voice, making great use of his subject’s wit to contextualize his place in American letters…colorful detail.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “With a Twainian lilt to the prose, the book mingles deftly shaped research with snippets from Twain’s writings.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • “The seven years that the writer spent meandering the Wild West are at the heart of the book. Fleischman chronicles Clemens’ various bouts of gold fever and get-rich-quick schemes in the Nevada Territory and the San Francisco area, but shows that it was always his newspaper writing that provided stability…Although similar in scope to Kathryn Lasky’s A Brilliant Streak: The Making of Mark Twain, Fleischman’s account is more engaging as he slips easily into Twain’s drawling cadences.”

    School Library Journal (starred review)

  • “Highly enjoyable…No worthier Twain bio will cross a child’s path than this feisty tale.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • “What truly sets this biography in a class by itself…is how enthusiastically Fleischman assumes Twain’s tone.”

    Bulletin for the Center for Children’s Books

  • “Samuel Clemens’ life, travel, and experiences provided him with the ideas from which his stories grew. Just how much the stories grew was the question that Sid Fleischman tackled when he researched this book…Clemens’ adventurous life as a printer’s apprentice, riverboat pilot, writer, gold seeker, and storyteller, to name just a few of his vocations, is wittily shared in this biography…The title of this book is based on the advertisement posters from the start of his career as a public lecturer in the theater.”

    Children’s Literature

  • “Joe Barrett’s narration isn’t flashy—the anecdotes must have been funnier in Twain’s lectures—but he gets the information across well. At the same time, Barrett gives the biography a warm, nostalgic tone that helps listeners relate to the legendary American author. The book also includes a short story and a time line (with a few wry asides). This well-written history of Twain makes a good introduction for those who’ve read his stories but know little about the man.”


  • An ALA Notable Book
  • A School Library Journal Best Book of 2008

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About the Author

Sid Fleischman (1920–2010) wrote more than sixty books for children, adults, and magicians. Among his many awards was the Newbery Medal for his novel The Whipping Boy. The author described his youth as a magician and newspaperman in his autobiography The Abracadabra Kid.

About the Narrator

Joe Barrett, an actor and Audie Award and Earphones Award–winning narrator, has appeared both on and off Broadway as well as in hundreds of radio and television commercials.