This book brings together, for the first time in one volume, all of Bierce's autobiographical writings; much of this material has never been reprinted since its original appearance in newspapers. The editors have organized these writings into a comprehensive account of Bierce's long life. The core of the book is "Bits of Autobiography", a series of eleven essays Bierce wrote about his Civil War experiences (in which he saw action at key battles such as Shiloh and Chickamauga), his adventures as a Treasury Department aide in the Reconstruction-era South, and his three years as a Grub Street hack in London.
In combing through Bierce's voluminous journalism and letters, the editors uncovered many other autobiographical passages, which they have included here. These writings describe Bierce's slow rise to celebrity as a journalist in San Francisco and as a writer of tales of the Civil War and of the supernatural, his celebrated battle with the railroad baron Collis R. Huntington in 1896, and his stormy relationship with William Randolph Hearst during his long tenure with the San Francisco Examiner.