Ambrose Bierce's short stories reflecting his experiences in the American Civil War are reminiscent of Poe's or Twain's stories, yet they are darker than the former's and more sarcastic than the latter's. Bitter Bierce, as he was known, combines an interesting life (he served in the Civil War, lived in England for a while, worked as an upright journalist fighting big business, and finally simply disappeared in the throes of the Mexican Civil War while following Pancho Villa's troops) with a taste for the death, suffering and the grotesque. His characters kill their relatives or die randomly while enjoying themselves behind the front. Yet, his characters also display a pride and sense of duty (whatever the cause) that Bierce mocks while also respecting even admiring it. His stories are thus confounding in their contrast of harsh, gruesome endings, their lack of a moral juxtaposed with the moral integrity and unbending, exaggerated to become almost stupidity, character of his personages.
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