As a word assassin (i.e. editor) by day, I find Bierce's talent for word conservation stunning. I didn't know diction (and fiction) could feel so efficient. But, because no story is longer than 5 or so pages, this collection can feel draining, especially since the stronger works are in the last two sections: war stories and tall tales. Even still, he's such a phenomenal writer who pushes bitterness almost to its unbearable limit that anyone who wants to learn more about writing as a craft should have to read.