By Bruce Watson

Once derided as a hopeless cynic, American writer Ambrose Bierce now enjoys an exceptional literary acceptance. Witty and sardonic, Bierce speaks to our personal scandal-ridden instances. His savage Civil warfare tales became classics and his Devil's Dictionary is usually quoted. during this short biography, Bruce Watson explores the sorrow in the back of the wit, and probes Bierce's mysterious disappearance a century in the past.

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Every man has his price, Huntington said. How much would Bierce demand to cease and desist? Bierce said nothing. ” Huntington shouted. “My price,” Bierce boomed, “is 75 million dollars! . ” Silenced, Huntington backed off. After a long, hot summer Bierce returned to California, his job done. Two hundred thousand signatures on a petition against the funding bill helped to defeat it. A few years later, when the Southern Pacific was given 10 years to pay its debts, Bierce’s victory was cited as the first salvo fired by the Muckrakers.

Love, n. ” “Alone, adj. In bad company. ” But if brevity is the soul of wit, then sorrow is its heart. Beneath Bierce’s crusty shell lay the profound sadness of an impossible ideal betrayed. Unable to endure the human race, he repeatedly fled family and friends in search of a tolerable existence. By the time he vanished in Mexico in 1913, he had fought in the Civil War, crossed the plains on horseback, prospected for gold, and carved a channel of protest through an America whose destiny he saw as anything but manifest.

To wit: Politics, n. A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles. ” “Love, n. ” “Alone, adj. In bad company. ” But if brevity is the soul of wit, then sorrow is its heart. Beneath Bierce’s crusty shell lay the profound sadness of an impossible ideal betrayed. Unable to endure the human race, he repeatedly fled family and friends in search of a tolerable existence. By the time he vanished in Mexico in 1913, he had fought in the Civil War, crossed the plains on horseback, prospected for gold, and carved a channel of protest through an America whose destiny he saw as anything but manifest.

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