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Twain's experience as a Captain would have given him knowledge of the river that most authors wouldn't have. Having traveled the river, Twain was able to describe the banks, the islands, and the beauty from experience. Almost like a painting. His writing and experience leads the reader to be able to envision themselves in Twain's setting. That's an author's true gift~ to take the reader to places they've never been.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn