Samuel Clemens went west in 1861, and Mark Twain returned east six years later with the growing reputation of being a writer who rarely let the facts get in the way of a good story. Using letters, diaries, and reminiscences, Morris, author, journalist, and editor, pieces together the facts to show how an unemployed riverboat pilot became a self-made writer. Morris comments that separating fact from fiction in Twain’s case is more or less a full-time occupation. Morris is the editor of Military Heritage magazine and has served as a consultant for A&E Network and the History Channel. By relying on primary sources, he tracks Clemens’s personal, professional, and artistic transformation. Details include the development of Twain’s style including use of the vernacular, a love of the ridiculous, and a stinging wit to transform true-life situations into some of the most memorable stories of frontier life. Fans of Twain’s writing and academics will enjoy this well-researched biography. VERDICT A noteworthy addition for American literature and biography collections.