Ambrose Gwinett Bierce was one of the great journalists and short story writers of the 19th century American west. A veteran of the Civil War, he turned to journalism in 1868, joining the staff of the San Francisco News-Letter as a reporter and columnist. Bierce established his reputation with the novels A Fiend's Delight (1872) and Cobwebs From an Empty Skull (1875) and became one of the most famous writers in the country. From 1887 to 1908 he worked off and on for William Randolph Hearst's San Francisco Examiner, and published collections of stories in In the Midst of Life (1891) and Can Such Things Be? (1893). His most famous work is a collection of satiric definitions, The Devil's Dictionary (first published as The Cynic's Word Book in 1906). In 1913 he set out for Mexico and was never seen again. Rumors of his fate include a suicide in the Grand Canyon, getting shot by Pancho Villa and death by pneumonia.
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