This is a fascinating exploration of Hemingway's unique role in global espionage. Hemingway, known as much for his lifestyle as his literature, fought on the front lines of the Spanish Civil War and World War II, visited Communists in China, and fended off U-Boats in the Caribbean. A rabid anti-fascist, Hemingway was recruited by both the KGB and the CIA, and this struggle led to the writer’s block and disillusionment that ultimately caused his demise. Drawing on newly declassified information, Reynolds paints Hemingway as a “gifted, but overconfident amateur” in the world of espionage who nevertheless found his way to the front lines of history.
Veteran reporter William Geroux finds a fascinating chapter of WWII history practically in his own backyard, chronicling the men and women of Mathews County, Virginia in The Mathews Men. This town full of Merchant Mariners was a crucial part of the war effort, transporting supplies and oil across the Atlantic, Caribbean, and Gulf of Mexico to allied forces. Not soldiers, and without the means to defend themselves, they were often victims of both predatory German U-boats and the dangers of the sea. The Hodges family alone sent seven sons out on the ocean, and the stories of their perils, near-misses, daring rescues, and heartbreaking losses deserve to be told and remembered.
The memory of the First World War permeates the landscape of Europe, both cultural and physical. Dyer gives this topic close examination in his 1994 book, examining the ways in which the "story" of the war has been written and continues to be written into the fabric of British life and national memory. How did war memorials come to be built and what inspired their symbolism? How did Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon write the script of the war's memory? What do we mean when we call this war the "Great War?" How was the story of the war already being formed before it even ended? Has every writer who has written of the war been doomed to a preformed language of remembrance? Dyer's approach is difficult to characterize, he thrives in the space between nonfiction and criticism, memoir and travelogue. The effect is similar to having a thrilling conversation with your smartest friend.