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Ignorance, Confidence, and Filthy Rich Friends: The Business Adventures of Mark Twain, Chronic Speculator and Entrepreneurby Peter Krass
Synopses & Reviews
In addition to being one of America's most renowned and beloved writers, Mark Twain considered himself a hard-nosed, visionary businessman. After achieving worldwide literary success in mid-life, Twain actively pursued his business interests: he developed his own inventions, was a venture capitalist who supported other inventors, a Wall Street investor who made a fortune more than once, and a media mogul who founded his own publishing firm. Not surprisingly, he was also a pioneer in salesmanship.
Ignorance, Confidence, and Filthy Rich Friends illuminates this little-known side of an American icon in an engaging and informative narrative that details a business career full of adventure, ambition, and insightful instruction. Author Peter Krass examines all the critical events and circumstances that shaped Twain's "Robber Baron" perspective on money and business. He reveals how, while often torn between being an enlightened man of letters and a materialistic capitalist, Twain was motivated by a relentless desire to accumulate great wealth. Krass traces the source of this sometimes unhealthy compulsion to the writer's boyhood—when he developed an irrational fear of poverty after his father's business ventures failed.
At times as entertaining and dramatic as one of Twain's own works, this fascinating book tells how the legendary writer and humorist made millions in today's dollars publishing the memoirs of General Ulysses S. Grant. It details his escapades as a venture capitalist—one who made significant investments in some twenty start-up firms—and as a Wall Street investor with a sizable stock portfolio. It also tells how, often at the expense of his book projects, he promoted his own inventions, including a children's game he patented in 1885 and numerous other gadgets for everyday use.
Along with these enlightening tales, Krass includes brief mini-chapters entitled "Quirky Habits & Brazen Philosophy" between chapters throughout the book. These interludes further explore the personal habits that aided Twain's stunning success and feature many memorable witticisms from the master himself. For those who know and love Mark Twain only as a writer and humorist, this book will provide a fascinating and revealing look at his life as a successful man of business.
"Mark Twain: humorist, novelist, and business guru? That last label may come as a surprise, but the preeminent American author spent most of his life in pursuit of wealth: as a riverboat captain, a silver prospector, a newspaper owner, an investor and an inventor. Krass (Portrait of War) tries to adapt Twain's life story and trademark wit for the business how-to format, with mixed results. Krass's attempts to incorporate Twain's rascally humor into his business writing often misfire, due to bad setups and over-explanation (Twain: 'Vice flourished luxuriantly ... A crowded police-court docket is the surest of all signs that trade is brisk.' Krass: 'However, vice never did become a leading indicator used by the government to monitor the economy's health'). Fortunately for Krass, the ups and downs of Twain's business ventures, in which he made and lost vast sums, prove thrilling in themselves. As ruthless as Twain could be in print, he was even more vicious and unapologetic in business: for instance, he repaid his father-in-law's investment in his newspaper by ending the newspaper's criticisms of his father-in-law's dealings. Krass' book is most entertaining-and useful-treated as a business-minded biography rather than a guidebook." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
While the entire world knows Mark Twain as the renowned author of many classic American novels, few people are aware that he was also a highly successful businessman. In fact, more than half of his life was consumed by moneymaking pursuits, which often resulted in writing projects being neglected—but at the same time, these adventures were the inspiration behind many of the characters found in his books.
In Ignorance, Confidence, and Filthy Rich Friends, Peter Krass captures a little-known side of this American icon and details the roller coaster ride of his business ventures in a dramatic, entertaining, and informative narrative style. From Twain's time as the founder of his own publishing house—where he made a small fortune publishing General Ulysses S. Grant's memoirs—to his foray into venture capitalism and investment in numerous start-up firms, to his focus on his own inventions, this engaging book reveals the Mark Twain that few of us know: the no-nonsense, successful American businessman.
Mark Twain was not only a legendary author and humorist; he was also a successful businessman in a variety of ventures. He founded his own publishing house where he made a killing of $2.5 million in todays dollars by publishing General Ulysses S. Grants memoirs. He was a venture capitalist who made significant investments in some 20 start-up firms and inventions. He was a Wall Street investor with a sizable stock portfolio. He was a pioneer in salesmanship, a brilliant public speaker, and a hard-nosed negotiator. He even set aside writing Huckleberry Finn to focus on his own inventions, which included a childrens game he patented in 1885 and a self-adhesive scrapbook that turned a profit. From this tremendous breadth of experience, Twain became a savvy businessman in his own right. This book will be a thorough look at Twain's life as a successful man of business.
About the Author
Peter Krass is an accomplished and prolific author, editor, and researcher. He has written and edited ten books, including Portrait of War, Blood & Whiskey: The Life and Times of Jack Daniel and Carnegie, all published by Wiley. Krass lives in Hanover, New Hampshire.
Table of Contents
Chapter one. Early Hard Knocks on the Road to Riches and Fame.
Quirky Habits and Brazen Philosophy: How to Outwit Your Superiors.
Chapter two. How to Quit a Good Job and Then Lose a Million Dollars.
Quirky Habits and Brazen Philosophy: Even a Crank Knows to Dress for Success.
Chapter three. Sometimes Necessity Is the Mother of a Career.
Quirky Habits and Brazen Philosophy: Overcoming Stage Fright and Winning the Audience as a Public Speaker.
Chapter four. Welcome to Corporate America: Hard-Nosed Negotiating and Profit-Driven Management.
Quirky Habits and Brazen Philosophy: The Authors Stormy Work Habits.
Chapter five. Sucked into the Gilded
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