Ambrose Bierce wrote stories so dramatically different from those of his contemporaries that they hardly seem like they were written in the nineteenth century. These original and innovative tales, most of which appeared in the 1880s and 1890s, constitute 23 examples of his best and most characteristic short fiction: anti-war satires that underscore the barbarism and futility of bloodshed; horror stories with a keenly ironic edge; and sardonic "tall tales" of the Old West.
The American Civil War was the defining experience of Bierce's life, and the battlefield ordeals from his service within the Union army contributed to his distinctive brand of cynical realism. This collection boasts the best of his Civil War tales, including "Chickamauga," "A Horseman in the Sky," and the author's much-imitated masterpiece, "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge." Writers of mystery and suspense stories have long been influenced by Bierce's tales of the supernatural such as "The Moonlit Road," and "The Eyes of the Panther." This anthology also features "Oil of Dog," "My Favorite Murder," and other satirical fables that continue to captivate readers with their humor and ingenuity.