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Roughing It | [Mark Twain]

Roughing It

In 1861, young Mark Twain found himself adrift as a tenderfoot in the Wild West. Roughing It is a hilarious record of his travels over a six-year period that comes to life with his inimitable mixture of reporting, social satire, and rollicking tall tales. Twain reflects on his scuffling years mining silver in Nevada, working at a Virginia City newspaper, being downandout in San Francisco, reporting for a newspaper from Hawaii, and more.
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Publisher's Summary

In 1861, young Mark Twain found himself adrift as a tenderfoot in the Wild West. Roughing It is a hilarious record of his travels over a six-year period that comes to life with his inimitable mixture of reporting, social satire, and rollicking tall tales. Twain reflects on his scuffling years mining silver in Nevada, working at a Virginia City newspaper, being downandout in San Francisco, reporting for a newspaper from Hawaii, and more.

This humorous account is a patchwork of personal anecdotes and tall tales, many of them told in the “vigorous new vernacular” of the West.

Selling 75,000 copies within a year of its publication in 1872, Roughing It was greeted as a work of “wild, preposterous invention and sublime exaggeration” whose satiric humor made “pretension and false dignity ridiculous.” Meticulously restored from a variety of original sources, this text adheres to the author’s wishes in thousands of details of wording, spelling, and punctuation.

Public Domain (P)2011 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What the Critics Say

“Describes, in dramatic incidents, the people he met, from desperadoes to Brigham Young.” (The Reader’s Encyclopedia)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (91 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Tad Davis 01-02-12
    Tad Davis 01-02-12
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    "The wild humorist of the West"

    With this volume, Grover Gardner has done all of Twain's best travel writing: Innocents Abroad, A Tramp Abroad, Life on the Mississippi, and now this. Of the four, Roughing It is one of the funniest. It's Twain's account of the six or so years he spent out West, first as an undersecretary to the secretary of the Nevada territory, who happened to be his brother Orion; then as a silver miner and entrepreneur; then a newspaperman, concluding with an extended account of his first travel assignment: a tour of the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii) for a San Francisco newspaper. Without making the slightest effort to impersonate Twain, Gardner captures the spirit of the work flawlessly.

    Twain's travel writing is like no one else's on earth. Without batting an eye, he can shift from the most accurate and evocative nature writing to the most outrageous tall tale - and back again. He can be brutally iconoclastic and awestruck by beauty in the same paragraph. (His glowing account of a night-time visit to Lake Tahoe is coupled with the story of how he and his partner managed to burn down several acres of timber on the shore of the lake by accident, destroying their investment in a budding timber concern.)

    I'm still shuddering at his tale of venturing into the crater of an active volcano in Hawaii, picking a careful path through partially-hardened lava fields by torchlight.

    If you've read Twain's novels and want more, give his travel writing a try. I waited way too many years to do so myself. Roughing It is one of the last I read, and is one of the best.

    10 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Walnut Creek, CA, United States 06-08-12
    Michael Walnut Creek, CA, United States 06-08-12

    I focus on fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, science, history, politics and read a lot. I try to review everything I read.

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    "Funny, Historical, and Enjoyable"

    Twain???s travel writing isn???t your standard travel writing. Roughing It is tongue in cheek, sarcastic, fantastic, humorous, wild, and ridiculous. This relates the experiences of Mark Twain???s journey through the west and Hawaii. The narration is excellent, with an excellent understanding of the humor. I really enjoyed the history and texture of the American west. At a few points the humor is a bit dated, but overall this is a fun listen.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    No Suspicion 07-20-13 Member Since 2015

    I could wile away the hours...

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    "The Wild West, Tamed by Twain"

    There's nothing better than a night curled-up by the fire, with Mark Twain and his eccentric, peculiar, indispensable point of view. Here he tackles desperados, stagecoaches, mountains dappled with snow, the city of Salt Lake, and so on and so forth. It hardly matters what he says, he says it so damn well.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 01-03-13
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    "Excellent audible book"

    Thoroughly enjoyed this class Mark Twain story of his adventures in The West in the mid 1800s. Narrator did an excellent job reading the book and delivering in a fashion to keep my interest. I even enjoyed the various voices he used. I would highly recommend this entertaining Audible book.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Matthew Robert Borths 05-09-15 Member Since 2010
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    "Gardner Captures Twain"

    Like many of Twain's travelogues, Roughing It shouldn't really be approached as a narrative with a driving plot. It's a collection of stories and anecdotes told by a master storyteller with a deep empathy for all the goofy characters he's met during his wanderings. It doesn't demand to be listened to straight through. You can stop and start after different chapters, treating each as a kind of short story or vignette that skewers and augments the "Wild West." If you have any interest in the history of the West, this needs to be part of your library as one of the best "on-the-ground" records of life during the Silver Rush and Gold Rush, what the Pony Express looked like in action, how you traveled the interior in a stagecoach, and what Hawaii looked like to someone who had never encountered the jungle. This is the origin story of Mark Twain as a character as Clemens is given the freedom to build his character's identity, and first put Mark Twain to the test in print and on stage.

    One of the great pleasures of this recording is the voice of Gardner, whose tone and rhythm capture the prose of Twain and has transformed how I hear the great writer in my head. This is a beautifully produced audiobook and a perfect marriage between author and reader.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. Norman Reid Delaplane, VA 03-18-15
    J. Norman Reid Delaplane, VA 03-18-15 Member Since 2013

    Woodworker

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    "Seemed to go on forever"

    Twain is witty and his use of the language is good, but after a while it seemed to go on forever. I thought the best parts were his observations about crossing the continent and his silver mining escapades, which are a period piece of history. Probably not his best effort.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kristi Richardson Milwaukie, OR, United States 01-14-15
    Kristi Richardson Milwaukie, OR, United States 01-14-15 Member Since 2014

    An old broad that enjoys books of all types. Would rather read than write reviews though. I know what I like, and won't be bothered by crap.

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    ""Mormon Bible...It is chloroform in print.""

    This was the first time I have read this book by Mark Twain and it certainly captures the spirit of the West in the 1860's. He also makes a side trip to Hawaii which is fun and interesting to know what Honolulu was like when still under a King.

    My favorite parts of the whole book was his take on Mormons and their religion. He writes an anecdote about Brigham Young having over a hundred children and some man gave one of them a whistle. If you are a parent you will thoroughly understand Mr. Young's agony on this event. Now his wives are pestering him so that their children get equal treatment and a whistle of their own. As a mother of six, I understood this as a real problem.

    Mark Twain's wit is sharp and his stories are hilarious in the way they are told. Grover Gardner does a fine narration on this volume.

    As with all of Mr. Twain's books there is some racial bigotry that you need to overlook. I think it's better to get the original view than a politically correct version.

    "All men have heard of the Mormon Bible, but few except the “elect” have seen it, or, at least, taken the trouble to read it. I brought away a copy from Salt Lake. The book is a curiosity to me, it is such a pretentious affair, and yet so “slow,” so sleepy; such an insipid mess of inspiration. It is chloroform in print."

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Norman Wendth 09-20-14

    I'm a retired college professor in love with books in all formats.

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    "Glad I listened"
    Where does Roughing It rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Although not the best, this is one of the better listens I've enjoyed through Audible.com. While I have read most of Mark Twain, I somehow had never read *Roughing It.* I loved it. It is far from the book I would recommend for an introduction to Twain, but if you enjoyed *Innocents Abroad* you will enjoy this.


    What other book might you compare Roughing It to and why?

    *Innocents Abroad." This book has the same humor and organization but applied to the US west rather than to Europe.


    What does Grover Gardner bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    I love the way Gardner can keep the humor in his voice without letting it become distracting. I never could have done it.


    Any additional comments?

    If you don't know Mark Twain, you have a treat coming. Try him out--but not here. On the other hand, if you already know and enjoy Twain, do give *Roughing It* a try.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Timothy College Station, TX, United States 10-22-13
    Timothy College Station, TX, United States 10-22-13 Member Since 2011
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    "Excellent, tons of fun, but too long."

    Listening to the first half of this excellent audiobook, I was reminded again and again why Mark Twain is one of the best American writers ever. He can do more with a single paragraph than JK Rowling, Stephanie Meyer, and all the other pop-fad-of-the-day writers can do with 7 or 8 novels combined.

    The only problem with this particular Twain book is it's just too danged long! The length is what prevented me from giving it 5 stars. It's just too long.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ilean I. Isaza 12-05-12 Member Since 2015

    Ilo

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    "A must read"
    Where does Roughing It rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This was my first and what a great introduction!


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Roughing It?

    Absolutely everything. The voice was fantastic! The chapters about the Mormons and his trip to the tropics I couldn't stop laughing


    Have you listened to any of Grover Gardner’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    None. But it was simply great


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The time Twain became a public lecturer


    Any additional comments?

    If you ever low on your sales of audible books start by offering roughing it for free. Now I can't stop listening to books.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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