Monday, January 13, 2020

Was Hemingway A Soviet Spy?: My Washington Times 'On Crime' Column On Ernest Hemingway

The Washington Times ran my On Crime column on Nicholas Reynolds (seen in the below photos), author of Writer, Sailor, Soldier, Spy: Ernest Hemingway's Secret Adventures, 1935-1961.

I’ve been an Ernest Hemingway aficionado since my early teens. Like many others, I believe Hemingway is the greatest and most influential writer of the 20th century.

Hemingway’s detractors disparage his work by emphasizing his bragging, bullying and boozing. Although Col. David Bruce of the OSS and Col. Buck Lanham attested to Hemingway’s bravery and active participation in combat during World War II, his critics like to zero in on his time as a WWII combat correspondent and brand him as a coward, a liar and a fake journalist.

But the worst accusation against him, in my view, is that Hemingway was a Soviet spy.

According to Soviet and American records, Hemingway was recruited by the Soviet NKVD, the predecessor of the KGB, in December 1940.

Did he commit the crime of espionage? I asked Nicholas Reynolds, the author of “Writer, Sailor, Soldier, Spy: Ernest Hemingway’s Secret Adventures, 1935-1961?”

“I’d say no,” Mr. Reynolds replied. “The American espionage statutes are loosely-written and he did not violate those. He did arguably violate something called the Foreign Agent Registration Act. If you’re an agent of a foreign government, you have to register.”

I asked Mr. Reynolds, an Oxford-trained historian, former Marine and CIA officer, and former historian at the CIA Museum, why he wrote his most interesting book.

“I was working at the CIA Museum and I was researching World War II intelligence history. I remembered that Hemingway had something to do with the Office of Strategic Services, OSS, in World War II,” Mr. Reynolds said.

He said he read a book called “Spies.” Written by John Earl Haynes, Harvey Klehr and a former KGB officer named Aleander Vassiliev, the book is about Soviet espionage in the United States in the 1930s and 1940s. Mr. Reynolds discovered a chapter on Hemingway that revealed Hemingway had been recruited by the NKVD.

“That upset me a little bit as a lifelong Hemingway fan and a CIA employee. Hemingway always stood for his own brand of rugged Americanism,” Mr. Reynold said. “Rugged Americanism doesn’t usually include spying for the Soviets.”

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

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