Here for the first time in one volume are the most famous and characteristic of Mark Twain's works. Through each of them runs the powerful and majestic Mississippi. The river represented for Twain the complex and contradictory possibilities in his own and the nation's life: the place where civilization's comforts meet the violence and promise of freedom of the frontier. It was the place, too, where Twain's youthful innocence confronted the grim reality of slavery. The nostalgic re-creation of childhood in "Tom Sawyer"--"simply a hymn put into prose form to give it a worldly air," said Twain--and the richly anecdotal memoir of his days as a riverboat pilot in "Life on the Mississippi" give way to the realism and often dark comedy of "Huckleberry Finn" and the troubled exploration of slavery in his mystery, "Pudd'nhead Wilson." Together, these four books trace the central trajectory of his life and career, and they can be read as a single masterpiece.