The extraordinary untold story of Ernest Hemingway's dangerous secret life in espionage
A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A finalist for the William E. Colby Military Writers' Award
"CAPTIVATING" (Missourian) • "IMPORTANT" (Wall Street Journal) • "FASCINATING" (New York Review of Books)
A riviting international cloak-and-dagger epic ranging from the Spanish Civil War to the liberation of Western Europe, wartime China, the Red Scare of Cold War America, and the Cuban Revolution, Writer, Sailor, Soldier, Spy reveals for the first time Ernest Hemingway’s secret adventures in espionage and intelligence during the 1930s and 1940s (including his role as a Soviet agent codenamed "Argo"), a hidden chapter that fueled both his art and his undoing.
While he was the historian at the esteemed CIA Museum, Nicholas Reynolds, a longtime American intelligence officer, former U.S. Marine colonel, and Oxford-trained historian, began to uncover clues suggesting Nobel Prize-winning novelist Ernest Hemingway was deeply involved in mid-twentieth-century spycraft -- a mysterious and shocking relationship that was far more complex, sustained, and fraught with risks than has ever been previously supposed. Now Reynolds's meticulously researched and captivating narrative "looks among the shadows and finds a Hemingway not seen before" (London Review of Books), revealing for the first time the whole story of this hidden side of Hemingway's life: his troubling recruitment by Soviet spies to work with the NKVD, the forerunner to the KGB, followed in short order by a complex set of secret relationships with American agencies.
Starting with Hemingway's sympathy to antifascist forces during the 1930s, Reynolds illuminates Hemingway's immersion in the life-and-death world of the revolutionary left, from his passionate commitment to the Spanish Republic; his successful pursuit by Soviet NKVD agents, who valued Hemingway's influence, access, and mobility; his wartime meeting in East Asia with communist leader Chou En-Lai, the future premier of the People's Republic of China; and finally to his undercover involvement with Cuban rebels in the late 1950s and his sympathy for Fidel Castro. Reynolds equally explores Hemingway's participation in various roles as an agent for the United States government, including hunting Nazi submarines with ONI-supplied munitions in the Caribbean on his boat, Pilar; his command of an informant ring in Cuba called the "Crook Factory" that reported to the American embassy in Havana; and his on-the-ground role in Europe, where he helped OSS gain key tactical intelligence for the liberation of Paris and fought alongside the U.S. infantry in the bloody endgame of World War II.
As he examines the links between Hemingway's work as an operative and as an author, Reynolds reveals how Hemingway's secret adventures influenced his literary output and contributed to the writer's block and mental decline (including paranoia) that plagued him during the postwar years -- a period marked by the Red Scare and McCarthy hearings. Reynolds also illuminates how those same experiences played a role in some of Hemingway's greatest works, including For Whom the Bell Tolls and The Old Man and the Sea, while also adding to the burden that he carried at the end of his life and perhaps contributing to his suicide.
A literary biography with the soul of an espionage thriller, Writer, Sailor, Soldier, Spy is an essential contribution to our understanding of the life, work, and fate of one of America's most legendary authors.
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About the Author
Table of Contents
Cast of Characters xiii
Chapter 1 Awakening: when the Sea Turned the Land Inside Out 1
Chapter 2 The Writer and the Commissar: Going to War in Spain 15
Chapter 3 Returning to Spain: To Stay the Course 37
Chapter 4 The Bell Tolls for the Republic: Hemingway Bears Witness 53
Chapter 5 The Secret File: The NKVD Plays its Hand 69
Chapter 6 To Spy or Not to Spy: China and the Strain of War 91
Chapter 7 The Crook Factor: A Secret War on Land 108
Chapter 8 Pilar and the War at Sea: A Secret Agent of my Government 131
Chapter 9 On to Paris: Brave as a Saladang 151
Chapter 10 At the Front: The Last Months of the Great War against Fascism 173
Chapter 11 "The Creeps": Not War, not Peace 185
Chapter 12 The Cold War: No more Brave Words 207
Chapter 13 No Room to Maneuver: The Mature Antifascist in Cuba and Ketchum 221
Epilogue Calculating the Hidden Costs 261
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I was really hoping I would enjoy this book but I don't think it is for a casual nonfiction fan like myself. Some authors, like Erik Larson, are able to present information to the reader who might know next to nothing about the topic but get caught up in the story because the writer has a knack for captivating an audience. Unfortunately with this book I was bored most of the time. That's not to say it is a horrible book and it is certainly well researched, but I think it will mainly appeal to huge Hemingway fans rather than those just looking for any nonfiction read. I won a copy of this book in a giveaway but was under no obligation to post a review. All views expressed are my honest opinion.
I was a First Read Winner of this book, and I could not wait to get started since the description sounded really interesting, especially since I did not know very much about that time. However I had a really hard time getting into the read and I felt overwhelmed with all the names that were thrown around and it never really held my interest. I found myself skipping ahead to see if there was something of more interest to me but it never happened. I liked the pictures that were included, but otherwise I was very disappointed in the book. Just not what I expected.