Saturday, June 24, 2006

The Devil's Lexicographer

"War is God's way of teaching Americans geography."

Ambrose Bierce -- misanthrope, hack journalist, critic and the devil's lexicographer (as author of The Devil's Dictionary, 1881-1906) -- was born on this day in 1842 in Meigs County, Ohio.

He disappeared in the midst of the Mexican Revolution. He was last heard from in December 1913 in Chihuahua, where he was covering Pancho Villa and his army. In one of his last letters, the 71-year old Bierce wrote: "Good-by — if you hear of my being stood up against a Mexican stone wall and shot to rags please know that I think that a pretty good way to depart this life. It beats old age, disease, or falling down the cellar stairs. To be a Gringo in Mexico — ah, that is euthanasia."

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