On July 14, 1895, Samuel Langhorne Clemens, 59 years old and deeply in debt, boarded a night train to Cleveland, launching a performance tour designed to alleviate his financial woes, and, more importantly, resuscitate his alter ego, Mark Twain. The journey took him to Fiji, Australia, New Zealand, India, and South Africa, and led to the resurrection of Twain as a celebrity. Equal parts travelogue, social history, and biography, Around the World with Mark Twain paints a decidedly different portrait of Clemens: a more tragic, darker figure who faced financial ruin and personal loss throughout his life. Around the World with Mark Twain delights while deepening our understanding of this magnificent personality.
In this fascinating nonfiction audiobook, Around the World with Mark Twain, author Robert Cooper recreates the historic lecture tour that took Twain around the world in 1895. In numerous firsthand accounts, the listener occasionally thrills to hear Twain’s drawling voice come alive through the vocal expertise of veteran actor Bernard Setaro Clark. Clark escorts avid listeners from "Indian country" in Wyoming all the way to India itself, with ample colorful digressions both to fill in the historical blanks and to give the journey its full literary context.
Beginning in Elmira, New York, this journey takes both authors, albeit 100 years apart, to destinations as far removed from Samuel Clemens’ beloved Mississippi as Sri Lanka and South Africa.
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good but could have been better
This book is best read as a supplement to Mark Twain's own account of his round-the-world tour, FOLLOWING THE EQUATOR. Drawing on both that book and other primary source materials, Cooper fleshes out details of Mark Twain's 1895-96 journey, calling attention to many fascinating things about both the journey and the places Mark Twain visited. On top of that, Cooper relates his own journey, following in Mark Twain's footsteps. All in all, a fascinating book.
In general, Clark is an excellent reader. He enunciates clearly, reads with energy at a good pace, and puts emphases and pauses in the right places. Unfortunately, his reading has two nearly fatal flaws. First, he makes the mistake of trying to impersonate Mark Twain's voice in quoted passages, even those of only a few words. These sudden switches in voice are usually jarring, and his Mark Twain is dreadful. It sounds like an old man recorded at 78 rpm and played back at 33 rpm. Moreover, the old-man voice is wholly inappropriate when Cooper narrates occasional passages Mark Twain wrote when he was young.The second flaw in Clark's narration is is gross mispronunciation of some proper names. I winced every time he butchers names such as &quot;Mauritius,&quot; &quot;Xhosa,&quot; and &quot;Bechuanaland.&quot; One might argue that unfamiliarity with African place names is forgivable, but how much trouble would it take to have some one who knows how to pronounce such names offer advice? Worse -- how it is possible for an American to mispronounce names such as &quot;Spokane,&quot; &quot;Nevada,&quot; and &quot;Juan de Fuca&quot;? What really drove me up the wall, however, was his mispronunciation of such simple African place names as &quot;Durban&quot; and &quot;Natal.&quot; It's difficult to pay attention to the text when such simple names are grossly mispronounced.In future, I hope Clark seeks expert advice on pronouncing place names.