cover image Ambrose Bierce: Alone in Bad Company

Ambrose Bierce: Alone in Bad Company

Roy Morris, JR.. Crown Publishers, $30 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-517-59646-3

This objective study of Bierce (1842- 1914), a journalist and short-story writer, draws a parallel between the sardonic writer's dark vision and his unhappy life. According to Morris (Sheridan) the depression Bierce developed during a lonely and unhappy Indiana childhood intensified after his Civil War experiences as a Union Army officer, and Bierce later memoralized it in the short stories ``An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge'' and ``Chickamuuga.'' Employing careful research, Morris traces his subject's career as a newspaperman in San Francisco and London, where Bierce became known for his articles pilloring a variety of targets including war, religion, poets and politicians, and for penning The Devil's Dictionary, a compilation of cynical definitions. His abusive personality lost him many friends and ended his marriage. The untimely deaths of two of his three children only heightened his misery. In 1913 he disappeared into revolution-torn Mexico and was never heard from again. (Feb.)