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Ambrose Bierce fought for the United States with honor and distinction in the Civil War, but the carnage and horror of the killing scarred him deeply. He became a writer of fiction of some renown, but the darkness and cynicism in his words was unique for his time.

His 1906’s “Devil’s Dictionary” is an A to Z sardonic look at society. His definition of politics, as an example: “A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles. The conduct of public affairs for private advantage.”

Decency has been part of the civic lexicon since the Declaration of Independence, which recognizes “A d...


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