Ambrose Bierce spent an unhappy childhood in Ohio and left home as a bitter and pessimistic young man. At the outbreak of the Civil War, Bierce joined the Union Army; he later brought his military experience vividly to life in some of his best stories. Bierce moved to San Francisco after the war and embarked on a career as a journalist. His "Prattler" column, originally printed in the Argonaut and then the Wasp, was picked up by William Randolph Hearst's San Francisco Sunday Examiner in 1886 and provided Bierce with an excellent outlet for his biting wit and his short stories. After divorcing his wife in 1891 and losing one son in a gunfight and the other to alcoholism, Bierce disappeared in Mexico in 1913, where legend says he was killed in the Mexican Revolution. His works include Tales of Soldiers and Civilians (1891; later retitled In the Midst of Life) and The Devil's Dictionary (1906).
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