Monday, January 23, 2017

My Washington Times Review Of ‘Hemingway at War: Ernest Hemingway’s Adventures as a World War II Correspondent’

My review of Terry Mort's Hemingway at War: Ernest Hemingway's Adventures as a World War II Correspondent appeared in the Washington Times.

As a Hemingway aficionado since my early teens, I’ve read all of Ernest Hemingway’s novels, short stories, his letters and most of the biographies written about him. I’ve also read collections of his journalism, including the six articles he wrote as a war correspondent for Collier’s magazine during World War II.

Since his suicide in 1961, there has been a steady stream of books about Hemingway, whom many suggest may be the greatest and most influential writer of the 20th century. Of course, Hemingway has his detractors. Hemingway weaved his real life through his fiction, thus creating the Hemingway persona and the quintessential macho fictional Hemingway hero. This has made it easy for the Hemingway haters to zero in on his personal life and disparage both his life and his work by emphasizing his bragging, bullying and boozing. They have also delighted in deflating his tough guy image by zeroing in on his time as a World War II combat correspondent, branding him a coward, a liar and a fake journalist.

Terry Mort, a writer who has written seven novels and six nonfiction books, including “The Hemingway Patrols: Ernest Hemingway and His Hunt for U-Boats,” offers an evenhanded look at Hemingway’s wartime role in “Hemingway at War.”

“Hemingway had a talent for being at the center of important events. Those events — and some of the people connected with them — are a large part of this story. He was with the Allied landings on D-Day. He flew with the RAF on at least one bombing mission. He flew with them during an attack of V-1 flying bombs. He operated with the French Resistance and the U.S. Office of Strategic Services (OSS) as the Allies advanced to Paris. And he was present and indeed active during the horrendous carnage of the battle for the Hurtgenwald in Germany’s Siegfried Line. As such he provides a useful lens to examine these events and also some of the people, both the troops who fought and the civilian journalists who covered the fighting,” Mr. Mort writes in his introduction. “Inevitably and understandably, his exposure to people and events affected his journalism, and later his fiction. This book attempts therefore to place him in the context of this history and in so doing expand understanding of those events and their effect on him, personally and professionally.”

I believe Mr. Mort largely succeeded in his goal.

You can read the rest of the review via the below link:


  1. Congratulations on a superb review! Bravo Zulu!

    I confess to a love-hate relationship with Hemingway; perhaps his personal life stands like too much of an uncomfortable mirror, which says more about me than Hemingway. Some of his stories also unnerve me (e.g., "A Clean Well-Lighted Place"). I remain a huge fan of _The Sun Also Rises_, my hands-down favorite 20th century novel.

    Have you read _Hemingway's Boat_? I have requested it from the library. I hope it is worthwhile.

  2. RT,


    I too like "The Sun Also Rises," which was the first Hemingway novel I read when I was a teenager, but I've come to like his "Islands in the Stream," which was published after his death, even better.

    As I noted before, his crime short stories "The Killers," and "The Battler," are classics.

    As for his personal life, well, we all have our failings, but his were much written about - by him as well as the press and other authors.

    He suffered concussions throughout his life, from WWII combat to the two plane crashes he lived through. And I believe he suffered from depression and perhaps other forms of mental illness, which appear to run in his family, or as he called them, "the strange tribe." Of course, heavy drinking did not help.

    Not to excuse his worst behavior, but perhaps we can be more understanding.

    Yes, I read Hemingway's Boat." Good book.


    1. Paul, I just returned from the library where I found a large print copy of A Farewell to Arms; my fading eyesight will try to revisit EH's great WW1 novel.

  3. I read your review Hemingway at War--
    Re 'Across the River and into the Trees'. I came to the same conclusion as you--I need to re-read it. Thanks

  4. Anonymous,

    Thanks for writing.