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Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce was born on June 24 1842 in Meigs County Ohio to Marcus Aurelius Bierce and Laura Sherwood Bierce He was a naughty child but when he was not out playing devilish pranks he would surround himself with the books of his literature-loving father To these he once wrote he owed everything Family conditions were never comfortable and Ambrose Bierce left home at fifteen to become a printers devil for the Northern Indianian in Warsaw This position he forfeited at seventeen when he was falsely accused of stealing money and his family insisted that he enroll in the Kentucky Military Institute Knowledge in army tactics and map reading gained there would aid him in the Civil War into which he enlisted in 1861 at nineteen years of age As biographer Richard OConner wrote War was the making of Bierce as a man and a writer Surely this cannot be disputed for it was in the war that Bierce was surrounded by the dead and the dying From this grim experience Bierce would emerge -- at twenty-three -- a young man with a true understand of death and a destined writer truly capable of transferring the bloody headless bodies and boar-eaten corpses of the battlefield onto paper along with other less gruesome qualities of war Bierces war tales are considered by many to be the best writing on war outranking his contemporary Stephen Crane author of The Red Badge of Courage and even Ernest Hemingway When the war was over Bierce worked for the Treasury Department for Reconstruction work in the south and also for the government for mapping unknown regions of the west He then went to San Francisco where denied a promised commission in the regular army he decided on a literary career While working as a night guard at the U S Mint Bierce read voraciously in his spare time and developed a literary style of his own practicing by
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