#312 Mark Twain

Episode Summary

What I learned from reading Lighting Out for the Territory: How Samuel Clemens Headed West and Became Mark Twain by Roy Morris Jr.

Episode Notes

What I learned from reading Lighting Out for the Territory: How Samuel Clemens Headed West and Became Mark Twain by Roy Morris Jr.


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(7:20) A great way to think about power law people: Their absence leaves of void that no one else can fill.

(8:00) His death would not have lengthened the life of the Confederacy or the Union, by a single day. It would, however, have reduced the literary inheritance of the United States by an incalculable amount.

(11:20) Opportunity is a strange beast. It frequently appears after a loss.

(13:00) In another life Mark Twain would be a cocaine dealer.

(17:30) I knew more about retreating than the man that invented retreating.

(21:15) The ad itself became legendary: “Wanted: Young, skinny, wiry fellows not over eighteen. Must be expert riders, willing to risk death daily. Orphans preferred.” Hundreds of adventure-seeking young men quickly responded.

(24:30) Blood and Thunder: The Epic Story of Kit Carson and the Conquest of the American West by Hampton Sides

(27:45) The purest veins were usually the deepest.

(28:00) The trouble with this business is that everybody expects to find oil on the surface. If it was up near the top, it wouldn't be any trick to it. You've got to drill deep for oil. — The Big Rich (Founders #149)

(32:30) Get the facts first, then you can distort them as much as you like.

(33:30) People are attracted to confidence and repelled from nuance.

(37:00) The whole point of the performance was not so much what was being said, as how it was being said.

(47:30) Ambassador Burlingame gave the author a well-meaning piece of advice. “You have great ability; I believe you have genius,” Burlingame said. “What you need now is refinement of association. Seek companionship among men of superior intellect and character. Refine yourself and your work. Never affiliate with inferiors; always climb.”

It was an admonishment Twain would take to heart and follow, virtually to the letter, for the next forty-four years.

(53:00) When you have something that you know is true, even over the long term, you can afford to put a lot of energy into it. — Jeff Bezos

(57:30) Mark Twain produced a remarkable stream of novels, short stories, essays, and travel pieces that today stands as one of the great bodies of work in English literature.


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