Lighting Out for the Territory

Roy Morris, Jr. (Simon & Schuster, $26)
Roy Morris, Jr. (Simon & Schuster, $26)

In July 1861, 25-year-old Sam Clemens left Missouri with his brother to head to the West. He wasn’t necessarily avoiding the Civil War, but he was no rabble-rouser and a pretty bad shot. Sam instead wandered for six years through Nebraska, South Dakota, Nevada, Utah, California and eventually even Hawaii. As a staff writer for Nevada’s Territorial Enterprise, he began using what would become his famous pen name, Mark Twain, and evolving his signature wit. The facts behind his journalism were never his strength, but as Huck Finn might say, “That ain’t no matter.” Quoting from The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Roughing It, Innocents Abroad and many magazine articles, Roy Morris shows us how Clemen’s adventures became Twain’s stories. This biography makes the literary connections without sacrificing the fun.

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