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This is the book that everyone knew, in Mark Twain's time, that he had to write. It is the story of his youth on the Mississippi and his career as a riverboat pilot before the Civil War, which contains not only some of his very best writing, but remains our most vivid picture of this colorful era in American history. It might be fairly said that LIFE ON THE MISSISSIPPI is to steamboat life what MOBY DICK is to whaling, only without need for a plot, at least not one invented by the author. This is a book taken from life, which transfers life onto the printed page as well as anything in American literature.