From recollections, recriminations, and rationalizations of more than 100 of Hemingway's family, friends, and detractors; army and barroom buddies; lovers and loathers; psychiatrists and scholars, Brian (Jeane Dixon, 1976; Tallulah, Darling, 1980; etc.) fashions an unexpectedly fresh and immensely involving portrait of ""Papa."" Using the familiar chronology of Hemingway's life as a framework, Brian pieces together the disparate views of his subject with all the skill of a master mosaicist. As the interviewees recall aspects and incidents of Hemingway's life, the reader feels like a silent guest at a dinner at which those who knew Hemingway (and those who have merely studied his life) reinforce and contradict each other's memories and opinions. The device is extraordinarily successful, lending suspense and internal tension. Three of Hemingway's four wives, two of his three sons, two sisters and a brother are quoted, along with such Hemingway intimates as Archibald and Ada MacLeish, C.T. Lanham, and Arnold Gingrich. Also here are the recollections of celebrities who encountered him en passant (Lauren Bacall) and those who never met him but detested him nonetheless (Truman Capote). The text includes the views of a pair of eminent psychiatrists and a transcription of the US Army's investigation into Hemingway's much-publicized adventures in WW II. If there is one minor quibble, it is that the final diagnosis of Hemingway's ""basic problem"" (manic-depression) comes as something of a let-down. This caveat aside, oral biography at its best.