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Healing Through Words
Mark Twain's Civil War
The Private History of a Campaign That FailedFrom the Mark Twain Project comes a freshly informed look at Twain's controversial Civil War story "The Private History of a Campaign That Failed." Twenty years after Appomattox, Twain published a highly fictionalized account of his two-week stint in the Confederate Army. Ostensibly this told what he did (or, in his own words, why he "didn't do anything") in the war; but the article was criticized as disingenuous, and it did little to address a growing curiosity about the nature of his brief military service. The complex political situation in Missouri during the early months of the war and Twain's genius for transforming life into fiction have tended to obstruct historical understanding of "The Private History"; interpretations of Samuel Clemens's enthusiastic enlistment, sedulous avoidance of combat, and abandonment of the rebellion have ranged from condemnation to celebration. Aided by Twain's notes and correspondence- transcribed and published here for the first time-Benjamin Griffin of UC Berkeley's Mark Twain Project offers a new and cogent analysis, particularly of Clemens's multiple revisions of his own war experience. A necessity for any Twain bookshelf, Mark Twain's Civil War sheds light on a great writer's changeable and challenging position on the deadliest of American conflicts.
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"Rachels has ably gathered some widely scattered material and sketched out a beginning at setting this literature in its context. His book leaves it to readers to take the next steps." -- John Bird, Studies in American Culture "Mark Twain's Civil War offers a glimpse into the character of this remarkable man and sheds light on the contemplations of a young man who may have been less concerned about the Minie balls whizzing past his ear than about having to send one of his own whizzing into someone else." -- James G. Hollandsworth, Jr., The Journal of Mississippi History "If you like Mark Twain, and I do; if you like Civil War stories, especially those about the fighting men, and I do; if you like to wrestle with the idea that fiction can be true and that memoirs can be fiction, and I do; then you will agree with me that this book is both fun and a worthwhile endeavor." -- Vernon Burton, Journal of Military History "For the first time, David Rachels has compiled and edited a work on just what Twain had to say about the war.Readers will find that Rachels' book provides insight into the war's influence on this great American writer, and the volume will find an appropriate place both in history collections and literary ones as well." -- Charleston Post and Courier ""Though these texts are available elsewhere, Rachels has created a solid work of scholarship through this collection and his analytical introduction.... Whether read cover to cover or sampled over time, Mark Twain's Civil War is an important addition to Twain scholarship."" -- R. K. Dickson, The Bloomsbury Review ""Those interested in the American Civil War and American literature will enjoy reading this unique collection of Mark Twain's views on the Civil War located now in one volume." " -- Lt. Cmdr. Youssef Aboul-Enein, The Waterline ""The book is handsome, well produced, and well illustrated.... Although it does not include cery much scholarly apparatus (no index and little historical support for unknown names, places, events, and so on), the volume is a nice addition to the Twain bookshlef, and perfect for reading in an easy chair, with its roomy pages and comfortable font and style. More should be written about Mark Twain and the Civil War" -- Harold K. Bush, Jr. ""Readers will find that Rachels' book provides insight into the war's influence on this great American writer, and the volume will find an appropriate place both in history collections and literary ones as well."" -- Richard W. Hatcher III, Post and Courier ""Mark Twain's service in the Civil War as a confederate lasted two weeks, but he managed to write about the way, in one way or another, for most of his life, as Mark Twain's Civil War, edited by David Rachels, makes convincingly clear."" -- Lexington Herald-Leader ""A useful and amusing volume...of Twain's writings of fiction and nonfiction."" -- Journal of American Cultures
Benjamin Griffin is an editor at the Mark Twain Project. A native of Berkeley, he was educated at the University of California and at Cambridge University. He specializes in Mark Twain and in the theory and practice of scholarly editing.
Contents Acknowledgments Introduction THE PRIVATE HISTORY OF A CAMPAIGN THAT FAILED Explanatory Notes Appendixes A. Mark Twain: Speech at Hartford, Connecticut, 2 October 1877 B. Absalom Grimes: "Mark Twain's Campaign," 31 July 1886 Textual Apparatus References About the Editor