It is a great “picture” of his times as he saw them during the mid to late 1800’s. It not only covers life on the Mississippi, but has within it his own policital and social views of the time. Some of the language is not “politically correct” today, but is reflective of the times. I learned a lot about not only steamboats on the river, but some historical figures and how they fit into a larger context.
Twain claimed that his famous pen name was not entirely his invention. In Life on the Mississippi, he wrote: Captain Isaiah Sellers was not of literary turn or capacity, but he used to jot down brief paragraphs of plain practical information about the river, and sign them “MARK TWAIN,” and give them to the New Orleans Picayune. They related to the stage and condition of the river, and were accurate and valuable; … At the time that the telegraph brought the news of his death, I was on the Pacific coast. I was a fresh new journalist, and needed a nom de guerre; so I confiscated the ancient mariner’s discarded one, and have done my best to make it remain what it was in his hands—a sign and symbol and warrant that whatever is found in its company may be gambled on as being the petrified truth; how I have succeeded, it would not be modest in me to say.
The book is a treasure and value is not monetary (though it must be considerable), but a piece of history as you hold it.
I loved the book.