This is the true story of young Twain’s wild and reckless 20s as an old west newspaperman in Virginia City, Nevada where he created his famous persona – all while sabotaging the life and political career of his older brother, Orion.
The book that made Sam Clemens famous was about his Civil War years in the Old West. In it, he ruthlessly mocked his bleeding-heart liberal brother whose work as the Secretary of Nevada Territory got the boys out west. Now we know that this book, “Roughing It” was all lies.
The truth, revealed later in his full autobiography [published 2010] is actually a story of a brutal sibling rivalry cross-cut with a sexual and political awakening. The brothers’ escape to the lawless territories was largely to save Sam’s life from bounty hunters.
When Sam Clemens became Mark Twain, his transformation from a Confederate deserter into the liberal lion of social-democratic modernity tracks America’s progress into enlightenment. At the same time, it reveals exactly when and how a postwar America, once filled with hope and promise, became an oligarchy of the Gilded Age.