Confederate Bushwhacker

Mark Twain in the Shadow of the Civil War

Jerome Loving

Confederate Bushwhacker is a microbiography set in the most important and pivotal year in the life of its subject. In 1885, Mark Twain was at the peak of his career as an author and a businessman, as his own publishing firm brought out not only the U.S. edition of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn but also the triumphantly successful Personal Memoirs of U. S. Grant. Twenty years after the end of the Civil War, Twain finally tells the story of his past as a deserter from the losing side, while simultaneously befriending and publishing the general from the winning side. Coincidentally, the year also marks the beginning of Twain’s descent into misfortune, his transformation from a humorist into a pessimist and determinist. Interwoven throughout this portrait are the headlines and crises of 1885—black lynchings, Indian uprisings, anti-Chinese violence, labor unrest, and the death of Grant. The year was at once Twain’s annus mirabilis and the year of his undoing. The meticulous treatment of this single year by the esteemed biographer Jerome Loving enables him to look backward and forward to capture both Twain and the country at large in a time of crisis and transformation.

Cloth: $27.95 | E-book: $26.99
ISBN-13: 9781611684650
Pages: 268 | Size: 5.5 in. x 8.5 in.
Date Published: September 22, 2013

“This book is a joy to read-rich, informative, at times quite funny, at other times remarkably illuminating about both the period under discussion and our own troubled era.”

Ed Folsom, Walt Whitman Quarterly Review


  • The veracity of ‘The Private History of a Campaign That Failed’ and how its composition reflected or changed Samuel Clemens’s outlook on life as expressed through his subsequent literature will continue to be debated among scholars. Loving’s study focuses on the broader picture of America in the shadow of the Civil War and how Samuel Clemens stepped out of it to deliver his own story.

    Mark Twain Forum
  • The author of a major Mark Twain biography returns here with a true masterstroke-a searching analysis of one pivotal year in his subject’s life.

    Alan Gribben
    author of Mark Twain’s Library
  • This book provides some interesting information about Twain’s life in 1885 and should be read by any scholar studying Mark Twain.

    The Journal of Southern History
  • Confederate Bushwhacker . . . captures a moment in which American collective memory of the Civil War started to show cracks in its proverbial armor.

    The Historian
  • This book is a joy to read-rich, informative, at times quite funny, at other times remarkably illuminating about both the period under discussion and our own troubled era. Jerome Loving is one of our preeminent American literary biographers; he has written himself-via his masterful trilogy of biographies of the nation’s first truly democratic writers (Whitman, Twain, and Dreiser)-into the distinguished company of Justin Kaplan, Gay Wilson Allen, and Robert D. Richardson.

    Ed Folsom
    editor of the Iowa Whitman Series and the Walt Whitman Quarterly Review
  • This is a wonderful example of a new kind of book. It is written by a widely respected scholar, so you can trust its accuracy, and it is written so well that you will find yourself unwilling to put it down. Loving gives us Twain at high tide; this is a vivid, fresh portrait of one of the central writers of America, very skillfully done. Loving shows us why we never tire of Mark Twain.

    Robert D. Richardson, winner of the Bancroft Prize
  • Jerome Loving considers America’s most beloved literary figure from a fresh, revealing viewpoint. [His] distinctive treatment brings back the richest of days in the life of a mercurial genius.

    Philip McFarland, Mark Twain and the Colonel

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