Mark Twain by Michael Shelden
Man in White: The Grand Adventure of His Final Years

70%

5 Critic Reviews

As Michael Shelden illustrates in his lively, star-struck and surprise-filled portrait of Twain the septuagenarian, this kind of behavior was carefully calculated. Twain made crucial, image-shaping decisions about how he would live his last years...
-NY Times

Synopsis

One day in late 1906, seventy-one-year-old Mark Twain attended a meeting on copyright law at the Library of Congress. The arrival of the famous author caused the usual stir—but then Twain took off his overcoat to reveal a "snow-white" tailored suit and scandalized the room. His shocking outfit appalled and delighted his contemporaries, but far more than that, as Pulitzer Prize finalist Michael Shelden shows in this wonderful new biography, Twain had brilliantly staged this act of showmanship to cement his image, and his personal legend, in the public's imagination. That afternoon in Washington, less than four years before his death, marked the beginning of a vibrant, tumultuous period in Twain's life that would shape much of the now-famous image by which he has come to be known—America's indomitable icon, the Man in White.

Although Mark Twain has long been one of our most beloved literary figures—Time magazine has declared him "our original superstar"—his final years have been largely misunderstood. Despite family tragedies, Twain's last half- decade was among the most dynamic periods in the author's life. With the spirit and vigor of a man fifty years younger, he continued to stir up trouble, perfecting his skill for living large. Writing ceaselessly and always ready with one of his legendary quips, Twain would risk his fortune, become the willing victim of a lost-at-sea hoax, and pick fights with King Leopold of Belgium and Mary Baker Eddy.

Drawing on a number of unpublished sources, including Twain's own journals, letters, and a revealing four-hundred-page personal account kept under wraps for decades (and still yet to be published), Mark Twain: Man in White brings the legendary author's twilight years vividly to life, offering surprising insights, including an intimate, tender look at his family life. Filled with first-rate scholarship, rare and never-published Twain photos, delightful anecdotes, and memorable quotes, including numerous recovered Twainisms, this definitive biography of Twain's last years provides a remarkable portrait of the man himself and of the unforgettable era in American letters that, in many ways, he helped to create.


From the Hardcover edition.
 

About Michael Shelden

See more books from this Author
Michael Shelden is the author of four previous biographies. For twelve years he was a features writer for The Daily Telegraph (London) and a fiction critic for The Baltimore Sun. He is currently a professor at Indiana State University.
 
Published January 20, 2010 by Random House. 528 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Mark Twain
All: 5 | Positive: 4 | Negative: 1

Publishers Weekly

Good
on Dec 14 2009

Here is a well-researched book for all Twainiacs as well as those coming to the subject’s late years for the first time.

Read Full Review of Mark Twain: Man in White: The... | See more reviews from Publishers Weekly

NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by Janet Maslin on Feb 11 2010

As Michael Shelden illustrates in his lively, star-struck and surprise-filled portrait of Twain the septuagenarian, this kind of behavior was carefully calculated. Twain made crucial, image-shaping decisions about how he would live his last years...

Read Full Review of Mark Twain: Man in White: The... | See more reviews from NY Times

NY Journal of Books

Good
Reviewed by J. W. Nicklaus on Jan 26 2010

Mark Twain: Man In White is a moving, inspiring portrait of an American icon. Michael Shelden has harnessed the energy of the man in all his boyish charm, and weaved it among his words, page after delicious page.

Read Full Review of Mark Twain: Man in White: The... | See more reviews from NY Journal of Books

Washington Times

Below average
Reviewed by Marion Elizabeth Rodgers on Apr 09 2010

Just as in Mr. Shelden’s previous book, “Graham Greene: The Enemy Within,” we are given a selective portrait of the protagonist that emphasizes only one dimension of the character.

Read Full Review of Mark Twain: Man in White: The... | See more reviews from Washington Times

Sound Commentary

Above average
Reviewed by Francine Levitov on Sep 01 2010

Shelden's research fleshes out the details of the latter to prove his point, examining, for example, his close friendships within his illustrious social set, his enchantment with the island of Bermuda, his lighthearted capers and correspondence with his Angelfish, and the pride he took in his honorary degree from Oxford.

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