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Editorial Reviews

Norman Dietz’s resonant voice, and his affable delivery, makes him the ideal actor to perform the spirited memoir Roughing It: A Personal Narrative by writer Mark Twain. This entertaining travelogue explores a seven-year journey through the wilderness of the American west. The original plan had been a mere three-month excursion to tour silver mines. Twain traveled with his brother Orion Clemens - the Secretary of Nevada Territory - and derived much humor from their adventures in unfamiliar landscapes and situations.

Publisher's Summary

"If there is any life that is happier than the life we led on our timber ranch, it must be the sort of life which I have not read of in books or experienced in person," wrote Mark Twain, and now you can share in that experience. The beloved American humorist spent seven years on a "pleasure trip" through the untamed wilderness of Nevada. Twain intended to spend three months touring silver mines, but the lure of rough terrain and comfortable clothes proved irresistible - as will this vibrant travelogue.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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  • Overall


For some reason I missed "Roughing It" in my earlier attempts at reading all of Mark Twain. My loss: it's an absolutely hilarious journey, part factual reporting, part tall tale in the best western campfire tradition. (If you're familiar with the omitted "raft chapter" in "Huckleberry Finn," you know what to expect.) One of Twain's greatest strengths is his willingness to include himself among the objects of genial mockery. This is Mark Twain the Humorist at his best.

I didn't find the problems with audio quality that others reported. I agree that Fraley's recording of "Huckleberry Finn" is a superior piece of work, but Norman Dietz does a great job on this one. He's droll, unassuming, loquacious, and endearing, and he adopts one of a variety of other voices at the drop of a hat. My one complaint would be a certain breathiness of delivery -- occasional rapid delivery punctuated by sharp intakes of breath. I think this is partly a matter of recording age and technology: I find that occurring less often on more recent audiobooks. In any case, for an audiobook that gave me this much pleasure, I have to give it five stars.

13 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Funny and Entertaining

I don't know why this book is not more known or read. It probably is the definitive book on the sights and sounds of the Old West, certainly moreso than the Westerns I've read. I laughed out loud listening to it, causing a bit of a stir among fellow airplane passengers.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Lonnie
  • Burbank, CA, USA
  • 09-01-07

Always a favorite

I've read this book numerous times since I was young, and the stories and anecdotes are always fun and entertaining. I've traveled the areas mentioned countless times, wishing I could have experienced it as Twain did.

I only had one complaint about this recording. I'm sure everyone has seen jokes that get passed around the office, Xeroxed and faxed over and over until they're almost unreadable. This recording reminded me of that. The quality is extremely poor. If I had known about the audio quality beforehand, I wouldn't have purchased this recording.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Don't miss this classic!!!

The recording wasn't the best but who cares as long as you can make out the words! This is a unique look at Twain and the way he saw the world. It's one of those timeless narratives that captures the character and the characters of a time and place. I laughed out loud and enjoyed Twain's perspective.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • cort
  • Kensington, CA, United States
  • 03-21-09

One of Twain's best books

I read this book many years ago and enjoyed it just as much this time. It's full of sharp wit and humor, with lots of wonderful insghts into the history and times of the American West. Great narration.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • George
  • thousand oaks, CA, USA
  • 09-28-03

Roughing It

I have thoroughly enjoyed Mark Twain's Western Observations. THe most enlightening is that the same charecters and situations exist today!!! I had some issues with the quality of the first CD I burned resutling is satice. The others were fine.

If you live in the West or paln a trip out here, it is a great "Read" to understand the fabric and flavor of the area.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story

Several laughs per to speak...

In the mid-1860s Mark Twain travelled from Missouri to Nevada Territory by stagecoach, hung out for a while, then went on to San Francisco, and then to Hawaii. Along the way he mined for gold and silver, wrote for local newspapers (his first paid writing work) and had many damn funny least the way he remembered it all, it was funny. In this book you will hear a lot of info that is true about the West in the old days...Indians, cowboys, outlaws, miners, idiots galore...but you will also get exaggerations of all of those characters as a you see the real thing, then you see it cockeyed and hilarious as well. You will perhaps also realize that a lot of stuff you have seen in movies about the West came from Twain...descriptions of outlaws especially. This book is highly entertaining...I read the print version three times before listening to the audiobook...and I will listen to it again when I need to be cheered up.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
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Just didn't work for me

What would have made Roughing It better?

I'm a Mark Twain fan and have read many of his books. This is the first one I ever listened too. This story just seemed to drag on and on. Each little anecdote was fine and sometimes humorous but put together the little stories just did not add up to one good story. Also, the narrators gravely voice just becomes grating over time.

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

I could not make it to the end.

Did the narration match the pace of the story?

The gravely narration paced the story just fine. Nothing much ever really happened.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

It was an interesting look into the view and opinions of the settlers and travelers of the time. But with Mark Twains usual exaggerations it was often hard to tell an opinion from a fact.

Any additional comments?

I really tried to make it through this book. I wanted to like it but could not.

  • Overall
  • C
  • Chestnuthill, MA, United States
  • 06-28-09

Sporadically enetertaining

It would have been good if it was half as long

  • Overall
  • Steven
  • FPO, AE, USA
  • 06-22-09

Couldn't get through it.

The characters are so jumbled around that I didn't know if I was coming or going. I wanted to read a classic, well I guess this one should have stayed in print only.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Overall
  • Rowan
  • 07-03-10

Loved it

Had me in stitches as i listened to him while i was fishing.Has such a timeless way with words and read superbly

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • John
  • 09-23-09

A definitive travel piece and a whole lot more!

Like all of Mark Twain's books this is a classic. He paints a very descriptive picture of his seven year adeventure filled with humour, sadness, compassion, greed and the betrayal it causes. From start the listener feels that he/she is taking every step with Twain sharing his highs and lows. A favourite of mine is when he buys a horse that did the milk run then uses it go on a date with hilairous results, this is just one of the many humourous stories scattered throughout the book. I found nothing to dislike about this book other than it occasionally dirfted off to an anicdote which had a loose connection to the story. Despite this I would give it fullmarks, 5/5.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Deena
  • 01-04-11

Well worth listening to

Mark Twain is a briliant writer and this book is no exception. I have to say that I chose it because I like audible books that offer more than a few hours of enjoyment. At over 16 hours this delivers just that. I know I will listen to it more than once as a result.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Martin
  • 07-25-11

Laugh out Loud funny

I was really only aware of Mark Twain for Huckelberry Finn and the odd aphorism but this book is fascinating , funny and brings a long gonew wild west to life- highly recommended

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Dez V
  • 12-21-17

An early pioneer of Gonzo journalism

Good fun, clever writing, and I could sense where people like Hunter S. Thompson got their inspiration from. Dynamic, witty language and humour to describe at times mundane events.

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  • Lord Peridot
  • 05-23-15

Mixed bag

Read very fast with a marked accent. Sometimes hilarious and picturesque. Other times a bit thin and facetious. But its an easy listen and theres not much plot. So doesnt matter if your attention fades in and out.

  • Overall
  • Matthew
  • 04-13-13


Thoroughly entertaining, beautifully read, funny, long and worthwhile. Value for money in my humble opinion.