Book Review: Autobiography of Mark Twain

January 3, 2011


One hundred years in the making, “The Autobiography of Mark Twain” (volume 1 of 3) is published as requested by Mr. Twain, a full century after his death. Samuel Clemens a.k.a Mark Twain insisted that his autobiography would be released under such circumstances to extend the copyright for his descendants as well as not to embarrass / insult any living person and/or their children.
True to his word, Mr. Twain manages to insult a few people.

I won a giveaway courtesy of

Book Review: Autobiography of Mark Twain by Mark Twain
My rating for The Autobiography of Mark Twain – 5
Are you a writer? This book will make you a better one just buy being in your home!*
More Books by Mark Twain*


The Autobiography of Mark Twain” is a delightful, well edited, obviously well written and interesting book. In the world of social media, where the grammar and spelling errors on Facebook are not only jaw dropping , but also acceptable, and if you have anything to say it better be tweetable – this autobiography stands out as an eloquent narrative which cannot and should not be dumbed down to 140 characters or less.

Mark Twain spent years writing his autobiography in many forms – essays, transcripts, transcribing and notes producing an immense, and amazing body of work. He didn’t simply go about witnessing his life in chronological order, but wrote in spurts about what interest him at the time.
Yes, this autobiography is not in a chronological order.

Clemens led an interesting life, which in turn makes an interesting autobiography. His sense of humor and sensibilities shine through the pages. The observations Clemens made about the people he met, famous and not-so-famous are acute and entertaining – as promised he manages to insult a few of folks (to my delight I might add).


The actual autobiography of this book is about 1/3 of it. So don’t let the size of the book daunt you.
The books is divided into five sections:
Introduction (p. 1-58): this section tells the reader how this book ended up in your hands after decades of detective work by the scholars who are working on what has become known as the Mark Twain Project.
Preliminary Manuscripts and Dictations, 1870 – 1905 (p. 59 – 200): A collection of Mark Twain’s false starts.
Autobiography of Mark Twain: The meat of the book, Mr. Twain’s final publication.
Explanatory Notes (p. 469 – 650)
Appendixes, References, Index (p . 651 – 738)

As you can see most of this huge book is not even the autobiography itself.

This book is so big, it can be used as a doors topper once you’ve read it.*
More Books by Mark Twain*

Zohar — Man of la Book
Dis­claimer:I got this book for free.
*Ama­zon links point to an affil­i­ate account, the money is usually spent on books

This post is in the 60th
Book Review Blog Carnival

Published at Atticus Books.

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Autobiography of Mark Twain


  • NicoleJanuary 3, 2011 at 8:31 am

    I can only imagine that this autobiography would be entertaining and well written. Twain is so much quoted that he had to have lead an interesting life just to have had so much to say. I Iook forward to reading this one day, though I suspect that it won’t be anytime soon.

    • zoharJanuary 3, 2011 at 10:40 am

      It’s not that long if you skip all the notes, etc. I’m looking forward to parts two and three.

  • HODGEPODGESPVJanuary 3, 2011 at 5:25 pm

    good review! can’t decide to get it in audio or e form….for sure not hardback…i read in bed…to big to hold!

    • zoharJanuary 3, 2011 at 5:32 pm

      Yes, it is a huge book. Luckily for me my favorite place to read is on the kitchen table.

  • Melissa McJanuary 3, 2011 at 11:09 pm

    I read Garrison Keillor’s review in the NYTimes…suffice it to say, i won’t be reading it in my lifetime.

    • zoharJanuary 4, 2011 at 10:32 am

      Keillor didn’t like the book. Maybe because, as mentioned, it’s not your average biography.

  • JaneGSJanuary 5, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    I got this for Xmas and was a bit intimidated by the sheer size–I’m not one to shy away from tomes, but this is a BIG book. Thanks for explaining its structure–I’ll tackle it in parts.

    I enjoy Twain a lot, though he can get depressing at times, but I am looking forward to this autobiography of one of America’s finest writers of all time.

    • zoharJanuary 5, 2011 at 2:26 pm

      JaneGS, I also forgot to mention that the book is of good quality, the paper is thick and durable which adds to the size.

  • sofiaJune 22, 2011 at 5:33 am

    this is awesome it helps me in writing my autobiographys for school all thanks 2 u………………………..:)

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