Friday, November 20, 2009

"Ernest Hemingway - A Life Story" Book Review

This is not only the best biography I have read, it's the best that I can imagine being written.  The amount of detail is stunning.  It's really a testament to the strength of the author and the force of character of the subject that such a long and detailed life story can be so interesting.  Topping out over 700 pages of tiny print, Carlos Baker analayzes Mr. Hemingway's life from start to dramatic finish.  Mr. Baker dedicated over 7 years to the task, and it shows.  Personal quotes, letters, and interviews with a virtual who's who of the generation, from Fitzgerald, Faulkner, Joyce and others are littered throughout.  I don't know as much about my own life as Baker knows about Hemingway's.

The overall picture of the man is one who was able to craft himself into exactly what he wanted to be.  No easy task.  He also comes across as highly sensitive, a womanizer who cheated on every woman he ever cared about, and something of a bully.  He could also be kind and generous, but it was virtually a crapshoot of which of his personalities would show up.

His favorite subjects by far were of personal courage, stoicisim and physical endurance.  He was at his best on the hunt, in war, fishing, hiking, and any situation where his physical well-being was at risk. 

Courage, he believed, was a matter of dignity and pride.  "A coward said that this pride was of no importance.  Perhaps it wasn't, but it was of great importance to whoever had it."


Stephen - Rat Race Trap said...

Martin, this review totally intrigued me. I love books, but I don't read a lot of biographies. I recently read the Oppenheimer biography (it was also 700+ pages) and I loved it. Thanks, I think I will check this one out.

Martin said...

Stephen - Glad you liked it. It reads like a novel. I don't think you will be disappointed.

Also, check amazon. I believe I saw used copies for $1-2.

Thanks for coming by.

Anonymous said...

Hemingway is the man. I just might have to add this to my reading list for December.

Martin said...

Yep, do it.

I have to admit, I am more intrigued by the man himself than his writing. I still need to read your suggestion though, about the bullfighting.

Will said...

Hey Martin, I'm am putting this on my list. He looks and sounds like the most interesting man in the world. "the after party is the one you want to attend, stay thirsty my friend."