Ambrose Bierce sounds like someone I would love to have a conversation with. He was intelligent, a satirist, journalist, writer and critic – and he lived through a tumultuous period of American history. Ambrose also called Bitter Bierce was born in a log cabin in Ohio in 1842 and even as a young man, he worked for a publisher. I admire people who find their shelf in life early. They appear so sure of themselves.
However, Ambrose’s path swerved with the onset of the American Civil War. He enlisted in the Union Army, fought at the Battle of Shiloh in April 1862, and eventually sustained a head injury causing him to leave the army. In much of his fictional writing, war is a central theme.
He returned to his publishing path in San Francisco and with a stint in England. Ambrose was controversial in most of his writings, which caused ruffles. He worked for Hearst during a long period despite controversy. The satirical and controversial were thematic and Ambrose published The Devil’s Dictionary with an emphasis on this.
In 1913, Ambrose toured Civil War battlefields at age 71 – and what follows is open to dispute. According to what I gather is the majority, Ambrose followed Pancho Villa’s army as an observer until he simply disappeared. Others say that he never went to Mexico. Others again say that he was killed by a firing squad.
Although I did not know of Ambrose Bierce beforehand, I have found an entire webpage: The Ambrose Bierce Site dedicated to him and his writing. Be sure to check it out. It gives an interesting impression of the man as well as his writing, which I at least would like to explore.
Finally, I should note, that the quotation “The covers of this book are too far apart” may not be Ambrose’s. The Ambrose Bierce Site states that they have not found it in his writings. That said, in my opinion, it still sound like Bitter Bierce.