Mark Twain & The Colonel - Philip McFarland

Released July 2012

Philip McFarland
Rowman & Littlefield

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

If you've ever wanted a detailed historical view into the late-1800s and early-1900s, grab a copy of Mark Twain & The Colonel. Author Philip McFarland leaves no stone unturned when his look into the differing viewpoints on politics and life between author Mark Twain (Samuel L. Clemens) and President Theodore Roosevelt. At times sad and other times upbeat and witty, the detailed biographies capture the men's strengths, weaknesses, and passions in amazing fashion.

I'm not much of a history buff. My interest in history was shot down during school when we had to learn by the textbook and memorize every little detail or be ridiculed and failed by teachers. When there's no passion instilled, it's hard to find any interest in the subject. Philip McFarland changed that for me. He starts out presenting men I could relate to. Imagine losing your mother and wife in the same day (Roosevelt) or having your children die before you (Twain/Clemens). That is a pain that I simply can't imagine.

Twain and Roosevelt had different feelings on the growth of the nation. That comes through clearly in McFarland's book. Through quotes and historic events, you learn about the era and what made each men tick. This is a comprehensive look that did keep me involved. If I, as someone uninterested in history, could find the book that compelling, anyone truly interested in history will want Mark Twain & The Colonel for their keeper shelf.


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