LitReading - Classic Short Stories

An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge by Ambrose Bierce

Episode Summary

Prepare to be moved by one of the most unusual short stories ever written, which tells a chilling tale of the simple life and complex death of a slave-owning planter in Union-occupied Alabama during the Civil War.

Episode Notes

Ambrose Bierce enlisted in the Union Army in 1861 at 19 years old… he fought in many of the US Civil War’s bloodiest battles including Shiloh and Chickamauga. Wounded at Kennesaw Mountain Georgia in 1864, he left service just a few months before the Confederate surrender in 1865.

Bierce moved west and became a renowned journalist worked for William Randolph Heart’s San Francisco Examiner for many years. An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge was first published by the Examiner in 1890. 

Author Kurt Vonnegut considers An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge the greatest American Short Story. A 1962 French telling of the tale won the 1963 academy award for best live action short film.

An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge was written in a unique style that flitted back and forth in time and featured a shocking twist at its end.

With a reporters eye for detail and a soldier's unique perspective, Bierce’s story offers a shocking snapshot of a single life and death during this brutal period in America’s history.