Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Intrigue: Real Live Adventure

Writer, Sailor, Soldier, Spy: Ernest Hemingway’s Secret Adventures, 1935 – 1961 – Nicholas Reynolds (William Morrow)

I can’t say exactly why, but I can’t shake the feeling of intrigue surrounding the fact that author Nicholas Reynolds was working as the historian at the CIA Museum when he stumbled upon documents regarding Pulitzer prize-winning author, reporter and adventurist Ernest Hemingway. Like any curious historian, Reynolds continued to follow his nose and the documents lead to other files and more documents.

As he worked his way through the ever-growing pile of research, Reynolds began to see the makings of a book, telling the story of Hemingway’s globetrotting adventures through foreign lands, wars and crossing paths with all kinds of interesting and nefarious characters. That book comes in the form of Writer, Sailor, Soldier, Spy: Ernest Hemingway’s Secret Adventures 1935 – 1961.

Reynolds plies his background as a veteran intelligence officer, U.S. Marine and Oxford trained historian (!) to carefully craft, in amazing detail, a side of the almost universally revered and respected author that most have never been privy to. In the process Reynolds creates a sensational story without being sensational. The connections he draws and the inductive leaps he takes are deeply seated in his stellar research. This is clearly not a flight of fancy, as Reynolds connects the dots with the research, the words Hemingway committed to paper and the newspapers and magazines went to press with.

Reynolds also draws parallels between the real life characters Hemingway crossed paths with and those who populate the stories he tells in his books. One of the oldest and most often cited saws about writing is write what you know and clearly Hemingway practiced in that realm.

While some may howl at the thought the beloved author could somehow have ties to nefarious things and people, Reynolds really tells an intriguing story and lets the reader decide to connect the often obvious dots along the way. Truly and entertaining read from beginning to end.

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