Mark Twain

  • by Geoffrey C. Ward, Dayton Duncan, Ken Burns
  • Narrated by Bill Meisle
  • 8 hrs and 7 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Ernest Hemingway called Huckleberry Finn "the best book we've ever had. There was nothing before. There's been nothing as good since." Critical opinion of this book hasn't dimmed since Hemingway uttered these words. Mark Twain was the most famous American of his day, and remains in ours the most universally revered American writer.From Ken Burns, Geoffrey Ward, and Dayton Duncan (authors of Jazz, Lewis and Clark, Baseball and The Civil War) comes this audio companion to the PBS film of the same name. It pulls together material from a variety of published and unpublished sources. It examines not merely Twain's justly famous novels, stories, travelogues, and lectures, but also his diaries and letters. The authors take us from Samuel Langhorne Clemens' boyhood in Hannibal, Missouri, to his time as a riverboat worker - when he adopted the sobriquet "Mark Twain."Twain believed that "The secret source of humor itself is not joy but sorrow. There is no humor in heaven." This paradox fueled his hilarity and lay at the core of this irreverent yet profoundly serious author. With essays by Russell Banks, Jocelyn Chadwick, Ron Powers, and John Boyer, as well as an interview with actor and frequent Twain portrayer Hal Holbrook, this audio provides a full and rich portrayal of the first figure of American letters.

Listen to a conversation with Ken Burns.


What the Critics Say

"Stands on its own merits as a fascinating account of Twain's extraordinary career¿" (Publishers Weekly)
A cogent, colorful portrait... provides the perfect introduction to Mark Twain. (


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Re read

I forgot how good this book is. Read it again, for the first time.
Maybe it should be re-read every 5 years.
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- G. Robert

Very well read & organized, but superficial

This is a good introduction to the life of Twain, but it is more multimedia oriented than history oriented. It is missing vital pieces of his biography (esp. his pre-fame period) and it is utterly missing the analysis I like to see (not excessive, but enough to make the story more interesting). All that said, I recommend the book to you.
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- D. Littman "history buff"

Book Details

  • Release Date: 01-11-2002
  • Publisher: Random House Audio