The Elephant on the Raft: Remembering Dad on a Mark Twain Odyssey (Paperback)
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How did celebrated author Mark Twain, a one-time Confederate militia man and child of slave-owning parents, ultimately marry into an abolitionist family of Underground Railroad conductors? How did Twain transform this inherent racism of his youth to become one of the leading advocates for racial equality and inclusiveness in American History? What can be learned that mighthelp in today's climate of racial disharmony? In this charming tribute to his late father, author Thomas Curley embarks on a series of road trips to recapture a lost bond between father and son, curious to know why his father had been such a fan of, and was so influenced by, Mark Twain. What begins as a free-spirited journal of tourist jaunts and childhood memories unfolds in an unanticipated direction when one trip triggers recollections of growing up in his racially-torn Philadelphia neighborhood in the 1960s and '70s. This inspires powerful revelations about the history of racial divisiveness in the United States, and how the life of Mark Twain offers what actor Hal Holbrook once described as "the clear path to the soul of America." "It had taken my own travels to arrive at a deepened understanding and reinvigorated appreciation for the genius of Mark Twain" Curley writes. "Racial discrimination is the defining underscore of American history. Since the publication of theAdventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain has been in the forefront of that conversation for more than one-hundred and thirty years." Filled with anecdotes about renowned figures from Benjamin Franklin and Frederick Douglas to John Denver and The Grateful Dead, THE ELEPHANT ON THE RAFT takes us on an uplifting ride from South Philadelphia to Twain landmarks from Hannibal to Hartford, with stops at Gettysburg, Ireland, Hollywood, Haiti, and a Rock and Roll cruise, sharing revelations about film, fatherhood, American life, and a potential path to healing a national wound.