It All Happened in Renfro Valley

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University Press of Kentucky - Fiction
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When the Civil War halted steamboat travel on the Mississippi River in 1861, an unemployed riverboat pilot named Samuel Clemens enlisted in the Missouri militia. After two weeks of service, Clemens abandoned his post and fled westward to begin a writing career—a turn of events that precipitated the rise to fame of the man who would become known as Mark Twain. The circumstances surrounding his departure are unclear; some view Twain as a deserter, while others call into question the nature of his commitment from the beginning. Twain defended himself in speeches and in print, offering varying accounts—with varying degrees of truth—of his confusion upon enrollment, his ignorance of the moral and political forces behind the war, and his claim to have killed a man while hiding in a corncrib. Regardless of the reason for his desertion, his personal experiences and the Civil War in general are recurring topics in Twain’s speeches, fiction, and nonfiction. In addition to broaching the issue in longer works, such as Life on the Mississippi and The Gilded Age, Twain directly addresses it in shorter pieces such as “The Private History of a Campaign That Failed” and “A Curious Experience.” Editor David Rachels unites these selections in Mark Twain’s Civil War, offering Twain fans and Civil War scholars the unprecedented opportunity to read the entire array of Twain’s Civil War-influenced literature in one volume. In addition to Twain’s own pieces, Rachels includes an account of Twain’s war career by his official biographer as well as a story by Absalom C. Grimes, a Confederate mail runner who claims to have served with Twain early in the war. An introduction by Rachels completes the text, which analyzes Twain’s military stint and assesses the war’s profound influence on one of America’s most celebrated authors.
 

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Contents

The Early Years of John Lair
3
The Beginning of the Valley Where Time Stands Still
15
1950 to 1960
35
Entertainers of the Changing Times
37
Days of BigTime Radio
44
WRVK
62
1960 to 1970
77
Years of Disappointments
79
1980s
153
Memorable Days
155
From Out of the Wings
161
Exciting Times and Exciting People
171
1989 News from the Bugle
179
1990s
183
Time Stopped Standing Still
185
Footsteps
192

Stars of the Silver Screen
90
The Boss Steps Down
98
The Gatherin
102
Whos on First?
111
1970 to 1980
119
Confusion Reigns
121
Back in the Saddle Again
137
Declining Years of John Lair
149
The New Guard
197
The Changing of the Guard
206
A Family Affair
212
In Closing
218
Sixty Years of Renfro Valley Talent
223
Index
229
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