The Mississippi River, known as " America' s River" and Mark Twain are practically synonymous in American culture. The popularity of Twain' s steamboat and steamboat pilot on the ever-changing Mississippi has endured for over a century. A brilliant amalgam of remembrance and reportage, by turns satiric, celebratory, nostalgic, and melancholy, Life on the Mississippi evokes the great river that Mark Twain knew as a boy and young man and the one he revisited as a mature and successful author. Written between the publication of his two greatest novels, Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, Twain' s rich portrait of the Mississippi marks a distinctive transition in the life of the river and the nation, from the boom years preceding the Civil War to the sober times that followed it. Samuel Clemens became a licensed river pilot at the age of twenty-four under the apprenticeship of Horace Bixby, pilot of the Paul Jones. His name, Mark Twain, was derived from the river pilot term describing safe navigating conditions, or " mark two fathoms." This term was shortened to " mark twain" by the leadsmen whose job it was to monitor the water' s depth and report it to the pilot. Although Mark Twain used his childhood experiences growing up along the Mississippi in numerous works, nowhere is the river and the pilot' s life more thoroughly described than in Life on the Mississippi
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by Mark Twain
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