The Assassination of Ambrose Bierce: A Love Story by Don Swaim



  • 2016
  • 391 pp
  • Paperback
  • ISBN 978-1-61498-154-1
  • Cover art by Jared Boggess




Like Carlos Fuentes’s The Old Gringo, this absorbing novel…tracks Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) south of the border as the American journalist and short story writer journeys with Pancho Villa into the maelstrom of the Mexican Revolution…. Fans of Bierce’s writing should enjoy this semibiographical tale with a suspenseful plot as wild as some of his more fantastical works.
Publishers Weekly
In The Assassination of Ambrose Bierce: A Love Story, expect to be entertained – to laugh and sneer and shiver – expect to think – on life, on death, on love – and expect to feel – pain, anger, desire – but most importantly, expect to find out what happened to Ambrose Bierce when he left his home without looking back, and faded into the white dust of Mexico.
—Michael G. Kellermeyer, publisher, Oldstyle Tales Press
Ambrose Bierce is alive again in Don Swaim's new novel. A harrowing, often terrifying tale of love and adventure.
—Bill Diehl, Entertainment correspondent, ABC News Radio
You might have thought Ambrose Bierce is dead. Wrong. Don Swaim has brought him back to life. And a colorful life it is. Exciting in fact (and fancy). Fascinating, too.
—Mervin Block, founder, Television Newswriting Workshop, New York

Mystery solved. Written with spellbinding prose and subtle humor that befits the topic, and dare I say it, in a way that the bitter literary giant this speculative mystery embraces might actually have found satisfactory. A highly entertaining read.
—C.G. Bauer, author of Scars on the Face of God: The Devil's Bible



Ambrose Bierce (1842–1914?) is one of the most colorful and inscrutable figures in American literature. He had a long literary career in San Francisco before disappearing in a cloud of smoke in the Mexican Civil War. His life story is ripe for fictional treatment, and Don Swaim has brought all his knowledge of Bierce—and his skill as a novelist—to bear in The Assassination of Ambrose Bierce: A Love Story.


The novel tells of Bierce’s departure from his home in Washington, D.C., in the fall of 1913 and his venture into Mexico, where he meets a number of the leading figures in the Mexican Civil War, notably Pancho Villa. Intermixed with Bierce’s lively encounters with the ill-educated and violent Villa are passages where Bierce recalls the more notable episodes of a long and rich life, notably his participation in some of the grisliest battles of the Civil War.


In the end, Bierce, after escaping death on several occasions in the Mexican Civil War, ventures up with Villa to Saratoga Springs, where he unexpectedly falls in love with a fetching woman, Elizabeth Dumont, justifying Swaim’s provocative subtitle (“A Love Story”). Along the way, Bierce also has repeated encounters with “the Damned Thing”—the baleful figure of death.


This novel—by turns moving, funny, and terrifying—will be richly enjoyed by aficionados of Ambrose Bierce and with any readers who like a well-told tale that evokes the past with vividness and panache.


Don Swaim is the author of Steampunk Electroblaster Romance, The H. L. Mencken Murder Case, and other works. He runs the most comprehensive website on Ambrose Bierce (


This product was added to our catalog on Monday 07 December, 2015.