Although Reynolds is forced to guess about much of Hemingway’s secret life as a spy, his conclusions seem consistent with...

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WRITER, SAILOR, SOLDIER, SPY

ERNEST HEMINGWAY'S SECRET ADVENTURES, 1935-1961

A military historian uncovers evidence of Ernest Hemingway’s dabbling in espionage.

While working on an exhibition at the CIA Museum, retired Marine Corps and CIA officer Reynolds (U.S. Marines in Iraq, 2003: Basrah, Baghdad and Beyond, 2016) discovered “tantalizing traces” of Hemingway’s involvement in the Office of Strategic Services and Russia’s NKVD, the precursor of the KGB. Beginning with that tenuous evidence, the author has assembled fragments from FBI and NKVD files, sometimes more suggestive than definitive, to create this mostly engrossing story of Hemingway’s disillusionment with American politics, his sympathy with communism, and his attraction to adventure and subversion. Two events changed Hemingway’s political perspective: a devastating hurricane in the Florida Keys in 1935, when the government failed to evacuate stranded World War I veterans, “who died by the hundreds”; and the refusal of the U.S. to support the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War. Both made him “passionately pro-Republican and antifascist” and therefore a likely recruit for the NKVD. He seems not to have engaged in much actual spying either for the Soviets or, later, the Americans, to whom he also ferried information. During a trip to China with his wife, Martha Gellhorn, he reported to Washington about “the friction…between the Nationalists and the communists,” information that did not come from secret meetings or stolen papers. In 1942, living in Cuba, he headed what he called the “Crook Factory,” a motley collection of friends who reported to the American ambassador about any odd behavior among German or Spanish businessmen on the island. Like most of his spying activities, this one was short-lived. In his later years, Hemingway became obsessed with the idea that he was under FBI surveillance, and the author speculates that this delusion “deepened his depression and made his final illness worse.”

Although Reynolds is forced to guess about much of Hemingway’s secret life as a spy, his conclusions seem consistent with the well-known portrait of the novelist striving to prove his manliness and power.

Pub Date: March 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-244013-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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