Ernest Hemingway's Secret Adventures, 1935-1961
On Sale: March 14, 2017
Hardcover / e-Book
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In 2010, 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, Writer, Sailor, Soldier, Spy, "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,
including the FBI, the Department of State, the Office of
Naval Intelligence (ONI), and the Office of Strategic
Services (OSS), a precursor to the CIA.
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
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, which destroyed the life of anyone with Soviet
connections. 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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