Part travel book, part autobiography, and part social commentary, Life on the Mississippi is a memoir of the cub pilot's apprenticeship, a record of Twain's return to the river and to Hannibal as an adult, a meditation on the harsh vagaries of nature, and a study of the varied and sometimesviolent activities engaged in by those who live on the river's shores. As Willie Morris notes in his introduction, it "is written with the flamboyance and affecting precision of a craftsman." Life on the Mississippi explores how a child learns to be an adult, and how an adult learns to understandwhat it was to be a child. It is a book about the South, about memory, about change, and, of course, about the Mississippi River and the world through which it snakes. "When the life of the river is rendered with Twain's brand of wry skepticism," writes Lawrence Howe in his afterword, "theMississippi is, indeed, well worth reading about."