Chasing the Last Laugh: Mark Twain's Raucous and Redemptive Round-The-World Comedy Tour (A Tangled Web Mystery)

3.81 avg rating
( 214 ratings by Goodreads )
 
9780553551150: Chasing the Last Laugh: Mark Twain's Raucous and Redemptive Round-The-World Comedy Tour (A Tangled Web Mystery)

In the 1890s, Mark Twain came back from the dead. The famous author's career was collapsing, his masterpieces were at risk of falling into oblivion, and he was even mistakenly reported dead. But Twain orchestrated an amazing late-in-life comeback from bankruptcy, bad reviews, and family disaster by setting out on an unprecedented international comedy tour to restore his fortunes. Richard Zacks's Chasing the Last Laugh captures some of Twain's cleverest and funniest moments--many newly discovered in unpublished notebooks and letters--as he rode elephants in India, sorted diamonds in South Africa, and talked his way out of hell ninety minutes at a time. This untold chapter in the author's life began with ridiculously bad choices and ended in hard-won triumph.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

Review:

"[A] colorful and fun read."
"The Washington Post"
"[D]ense in action and experience. . . . "Chasing the Last Laugh"brings Twain s comedy close to its wider context, and enlivens both. By situating the writer in his world and his time, biography actually makes Mark Twain funnier.
"Flavorwire"
"Not since Michael Shelden's spellbinding "Mark Twain, Man in White: The Grand Adventure of His Final Years "has such an impossible-to-put-down book emerged that yields fresh information about episodes in Twain's life on every page....Zacks manages the nearly impossible feat of maintaining the momentum of hisnarrative while filling in the behind-the-scenesfactors that add immeasurably to our grasp of the significance ofeach occurrence....By committing to narrate only a portion of a pivotal decade--a biographical period often neglected except by scholars interested in Twain's growing distaste for the colonial imperialism he witnessed at firsthand--Zacks is able to explain many incidents with greater contextual background than any full-length biography can possibly allocate to them. The result is a joy to read and a lesson in what can be done to bring an era to life."
"Mark Twain Journal"
[In] "Chasing the Last Laugh," Richard Zacks s entertaining account of the international lecture tour Twain undertook in 1895 to pay his debts...Zacks s absorbingly detailed reconstructions of [Twain s] performances the carefully honed timing, the shrewdly reworked and reshuffled greatest hits will increase your appreciation of him as a show-biz craftsman.... Zacks packs page after page with the flavorful marvels he s culled from the writings of Twain and others.
"Bookforum"
"Zacks is a gifted storyteller in his own right, which is as it should be; a master storyteller such as Mark Twain deserves nothing less. He brings that world to vivid life and finds the nuances in Twain s interpersonal interactions.... Through thorough investigation of Twain s notes as well as the letters he exchanged with his two daughters who remained home Zacks has recreated a small piece of an important and fascinating life. It s a beautifully researched work.... This book services Twain fans of any degree there s plenty here for the hardcore, but the story is so quintessentially Twain that it works even if you ve only a passing familiarity with his work. It s an intimate look at an incredible experience, with ample helpings of the humor that made its subject so great.... "Chasing the Last Laugh"is a funny and revealing reminder of just how great he was."
"Main Edge
"
"Twain could not have picked a better chronicler than Zacks.... [H]e brings a deep knowledge of U.S. history to the task of viewing the late-19th century world through the eyes of one of the keenest literary minds America ever produced.... Zacks writing...shines.
"St. Louis Post Dispatch "
"Zacks does an admirable job of giving us a taste of Twain s performances and quoting his best commentary without, for the most part, overwhelming the narrative with block quotes.... Zacks also casts new light on Twain himself."
"Washington Free Beacon
"
"[T]horoughly enjoyable.... In fascinating detail, Zacks documents the construction of Twain s talks, for which material was mined from his books."
"Columbus Dispatch"
[D]eeply entertaining. . . . Zacks s narrative is well-researched with rich detail and it will strike ardent Twain fans and history lovers as fresh and inspiring."
"Publishers Weekly "(Starred Review)
"An amusing, singular account of the world tour by the nation's most famous humorist. . . . [A] rollicking history perfect for Twain's countless fans."
"Kirkus"
[F]ast-paced. . . . A diverting and revealing look at a neglected episode in Twain s life.
" Booklist"
[I]mpeccably researched and thoroughly engaging. . . . Zacks...is an accomplished guide through Twain s travel escapades."
"Bookpage"
"Chasing the Last Laugh"is a funny and poignant account of Mark Twain s late, epic struggle against debt and death.Richard Zacks has a brilliant eye for detail and the narrative gifts needed to bring out all that is strange, zany, and ultimately inspiring in this remarkable story of money, honor, and literary genius.
Stephen Greenblatt, Pulitzer Prize-winning author "The Swerve: How the World Became Modern "and "Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare"
""
"Chasing the Last Laugh" is an intimate and fascinating account of what was basically the world s weirdest book tour, starring the funniest writer America has ever produced. Mark Twain s own notes and letters enrich every chapter, illuminating not only his cranky genius but the private fears and turmoil that compelled him to pack up his family and hit the road.
Carl Hiaasen, bestselling author of "Bad Monkey "and "Strip Tease"
"Chasing the Last Laugh" is something of a miracle. This book will be a joy and revelation for Twain fans. There is a lot new here. Twain s trip around the world in which he speaks truth, through humor, everywhere is a wonderful lens through which to see the dawn of America, the collapse of the British Empire, the early stirrings of colonial discontent in India. A new world is just being born and we re along for the ride as the sharpest observer watches and narrates it all. It is, also, a really good business book.
Adam Davidson, Co-Host of NPR s "Planet Money"
If you read only one book on Mark Twain, I would recommend "Chasing the Last Laugh." There is everything you could want here: Twain s infinite humor and forbearance, the glistening world of the British Empire at its peak, five years on the road with possibly the funniest and wisest American of his time. Richard Zacks manages this vast subject with enviable skill.It s a great read, entertaining as well as deeply moving, and I will be circling back to its pages soon.
Jay Parini, author of "Empire of Self: A Life of Gore Vidal" and "The Last Station"
""
A fresh and absorbing account (involving carbuncles, platypus jokes, and a surprising bottom line) of an aging Mark Twain's outlandish passage from ruin to glory.
Roy Blount Jr., author of "Save Room for Pie"

"From the Hardcover edition.""

A colorful and fun read. "The Washington Post"
An intimate and fascinating account of what was basically the world s weirdest book tour, starring the funniest writer America has ever produced. Carl Hiaasen
An impossible-to-put-down book. . . .Zacks manages the nearly impossible feat of maintaining the momentum of hisnarrative while filling in the behind-the-scenesfactors. . . . The result is a joy to read and a lesson in what can be done to bring an era to life. "Mark Twain Journal"
"Zacks is a gifted storyteller in his own right, which is as it should be; a master storyteller such as Mark Twain deserves nothing less. . . . A beautifully researched work. . . . A funny and revealing reminder of just how great he was. "Main Edge"
Twain could not have picked a better chronicler than Zacks. . . . Zacks writing . . . shines. "St. Louis Post Dispatch"
Dense in action and experience. . . . Brings Twain s comedy close to its wider context, and enlivens both. By situating the writer in his world and his time, biography actually makes Mark Twain funnier. "Flavorwire"
Zacks s absorbingly detailed reconstructions of [Twain s] performances the carefully honed timing, the shrewdly reworked and reshuffled greatest hits will increase your appreciation of him as a show-biz craftsman. . . . Zacks packs page after page with the flavorful marvels he s culled. "Bookforum"
Zacks does an admirable job of giving us a taste of Twain s performances and quoting his best commentary. . . . Zacks also casts new light on Twain himself. "Washington Free Beacon
"
Deeply entertaining. . . . Zacks s narrative is well-researched with rich detail and it will strike ardent Twain fans and history lovers as fresh and inspiring. "Publishers Weekly "(Starred Review)
An amusing, singular account of the world tour by the nation s most famous humorist. . . . [A] rollicking history perfect for Twain s countless fans. "Kirkus"
Fast-paced. . . . A diverting and revealing look at a neglected episode in Twain s life. " Booklist"
Impeccably researched and thoroughly engaging. . . . Zacks . . . is an accomplished guide through Twain s travel escapades. "Bookpage"
Funny and poignant. . . . Zacks has a brilliant eye for detail and the narrative gifts needed to bring out all that is strange, zany, and ultimately inspiring in this remarkable story of money, honor, and literary genius. Stephen Greenblatt, Pulitzer Prize-winning author "The Swerve: How the World Became Modern "and "Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare"
""
Mark Twain s own notes and letters enrich every chapter, illuminating not only his cranky genius but the private fears and turmoil that compelled him to pack up his family and hit the road. Carl Hiaasen, bestselling author of "Bad Monkey "and "Strip Tease"
"Chasing the Last Laugh" is something of a miracle. This book will be a joy and revelation for Twain fans. There is a lot new here. Twain s trip around the world in which he speaks truth, through humor, everywhere is a wonderful lens through which to see the dawn of America, the collapse of the British Empire, the early stirrings of colonial discontent in India. A new world is just being born and we re along for the ride as the sharpest observer watches and narrates it all. It is, also, a really good business book. Adam Davidson, Co-Host of NPR s "Planet Money"
If you read only one book on Mark Twain, I would recommend "Chasing the Last Laugh." There is everything you could want here: Twain s infinite humor and forbearance, the glistening world of the British Empire at its peak, five years on the road with possibly the funniest and wisest American of his time. Richard Zacks manages this vast subject with enviable skill.It s a great read, entertaining as well as deeply moving. Jay Parini, author of "Empire of Self: A Life of Gore Vidal" and "The Last Station"
""
A fresh and absorbing account (involving carbuncles, platypus jokes, and a surprising bottom line) of an aging Mark Twain s outlandish passage from ruin to glory. Roy Blount Jr., author of "Save Room for Pie""

A colorful and fun read. The Washington Post
An intimate and fascinating account of what was basically the world s weirdest book tour, starring the funniest writer America has ever produced. Carl Hiaasen

An impossible-to-put-down book. . . .Zacks manages the nearly impossible feat of maintaining the momentum of hisnarrative while filling in the behind-the-scenesfactors. . . . The result is a joy to read and a lesson in what can be done to bring an era to life. Mark Twain Journal

"Zacks s engaging account . . . shows the raconteur at his best and his worst: charming, childish, ribald, and intemperate." The New Yorker
"Zacks is a gifted storyteller in his own right, which is as it should be; a master storyteller such as Mark Twain deserves nothing less. . . . A beautifully researched work. . . . A funny and revealing reminder of just how great he was. Main Edge
Twain could not have picked a better chronicler than Zacks. . . . Zacks writing . . . shines. St. Louis Post Dispatch
Dense in action and experience. . . . Brings Twain s comedy close to its wider context, and enlivens both. By situating the writer in his world and his time, biography actually makes Mark Twain funnier. Flavorwire
Zacks s absorbingly detailed reconstructions of [Twain s] performances the carefully honed timing, the shrewdly reworked and reshuffled greatest hits will increase your appreciation of him as a show-biz craftsman. . . . Zacks packs page after page with the flavorful marvels he s culled. Bookforum
Zacks does an admirable job of giving us a taste of Twain s performances and quoting his best commentary. . . . Zacks also casts new light on Twain himself. Washington Free Beacon

Deeply entertaining. . . . Zacks s narrative is well-researched with rich detail and it will strike ardent Twain fans and history lovers as fresh and inspiring. Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
An amusing, singular account of the world tour by the nation s most famous humorist. . . . [A] rollicking history perfect for Twain s countless fans. Kirkus
Fast-paced. . . . A diverting and revealing look at a neglected episode in Twain s life. Booklist
Impeccably researched and thoroughly engaging. . . . Zacks . . . is an accomplished guide through Twain s travel escapades. Bookpage
Funny and poignant. . . . Zacks has a brilliant eye for detail and the narrative gifts needed to bring out all that is strange, zany, and ultimately inspiring in this remarkable story of money, honor, and literary genius. Stephen Greenblatt, Pulitzer Prize-winning author The Swerve: How the World Became Modern and Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare

Mark Twain s own notes and letters enrich every chapter, illuminating not only his cranky genius but the private fears and turmoil that compelled him to pack up his family and hit the road. Carl Hiaasen, bestselling author of Bad Monkey and Strip Tease
Chasing the Last Laugh is something of a miracle. This book will be a joy and revelation for Twain fans. There is a lot new here. Twain s trip around the world in which he speaks truth, through humor, everywhere is a wonderful lens through which to see the dawn of America, the collapse of the British Empire, the early stirrings of colonial discontent in India. A new world is just being born and we re along for the ride as the sharpest observer watches and narrates it all. It is, also, a really good business book. Adam Davidson, Co-Host of NPR s Planet Money
If you read only one book on Mark Twain, I would recommend Chasing the Last Laugh. There is everything you could want here: Twain s infinite humor and forbearance, the glistening world of the British Empire at its peak, five years on the road with possibly the funniest and wisest American of his time. Richard Zacks manages this vast subject with enviable skill.It s a great read, entertaining as well as deeply moving. Jay Parini, author of Empire of Self: A Life of Gore Vidal and The Last Station

A fresh and absorbing account (involving carbuncles, platypus jokes, and a surprising bottom line) of an aging Mark Twain s outlandish passage from ruin to glory. Roy Blount Jr., author of Save Room for Pie

"

"A colorful and fun read." --The Washington Post
"An intimate and fascinating account of what was basically the world's weirdest book tour, starring the funniest writer America has ever produced." --Carl Hiaasen

"An impossible-to-put-down book. . . . Zacks manages the nearly impossible feat of maintaining the momentum of his narrative while filling in the behind-the-scenes factors. . . . The result is a joy to read and a lesson in what can be done to bring an era to life." --Mark Twain Journal

"Zacks's engaging account . . . shows the raconteur at his best and his worst: charming, childish, ribald, and intemperate." --The New Yorker
"Zacks is a gifted storyteller in his own right, which is as it should be; a master storyteller such as Mark Twain deserves nothing less. . . . A beautifully researched work. . . . A funny and revealing reminder of just how great he was." --Main Edge
"Twain could not have picked a better chronicler than Zacks. . . . Zacks' writing . . . ...

About the Author:

Richard Zacks is the bestselling author of Island of Vice: Theodore Roosevelt's Quest to Clean Up Sin-Loving New York; Pirate Coast: Thomas Jefferson, the First Marines, and the Secret Mission of 1805; Pirate Hunter: The True Story of Captain Kidd; History Laid Bare; and An Underground Education. His writing has been featured in The New York Times, The Atlantic, Harper's Magazine, and many other publications. He attended the University of Michigan and the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University. Born in Savannah, Georgia, he now lives in New York City.

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