A feast for the Mark Twain fans, and a fitting commemoration of this, his 100th anniversary year. Read it for the many-faceted portrait of the man in all his roles that emerges from the lovingly prepared text. Meltzer has skillfully woven together a running commentary, chronological in essence, into which he has inserted extracts from a generous variety of Mark Twain's own writings. The result is virtually a biography- done in a different way - as it treats of his boyhood, his early apprenticeship as a printer, his introduction to river life as a child- and his education as a pilot. You learn about his homes, his schools and teachers and schoolmates; you meet the originals of Tom Sawyer, of Huckleberry Finn, of Becky Thatcher, of Aunt Polly (his mother); you visit with him and his cousins at his uncle's farm; you learn of the activities and entertainment in a Missouri small town. Sam Clemens had an itching heel- and his travelling began early and took him from coast to coast and often to Europe. He wrote to finance his trips- and various of his travel letters and journalistic pieces have found immortality between book covers. Roughing It, Life on the Mississippi, Innocents Abroad- all grew out of his passion for going places and seeing things- and people. His marriage stabilized all this- to some extent- and a happy marriage and family life it was, despite many sorrows and losses that came to him, his only son, usy, Livy (his wife) and finally Jean. His career as a writer, as a lecturer, encompassed the major years of his life- and all this is followed in this abundant text. And then there are the pictures:- daguerreotypes, tintypes, sketches (some of his own), photographs, old prints, cartoons, reprints of broadsides, posters, news notes, clippings, letters -- much of the material never before used and totalling an incredible 500 and more. A bonanza!