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Life on the Mississippi: 09/21/07
Life on the Mississippi is one of those books that has stuck with me from the time when I was first discovering my love of books. I first read it in 7th grade (21 years ago). As it was the year before I started my book diary, I can't pinpoint when with any greater accuracy. Rereading the book was like visiting with a long lost friend. I surprised myself at how well I remembered the "good bits."
A vacation tour up the Mississippi from New Orleans to St. Paul, detailed in the second half of the book, serves as the inspiration for his memoir about his training and career as a riverboat pilot. Besides his own training, he outlines the history of the river, it's geography, geology and its fickle nature. The piloting and river bits are my favorite parts of the book.
Twain also includes some tall tales and sketches about the people who live and work along the river. There are also essays on the changing political and economic climate along the Mississippi. By themselves, these asides are humorous but they breakup the flow of the book.