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The Crook Factory

3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  873 ratings  ·  78 reviews
"Wonderful...brilliantly realized...a gripping narrative."
- Iain Pears, "New York Times" bestselling author of "An Instance of the Fingerpost"

In 1942, at the height of World War Two, the famous writer Ernest Hemingway sought permission from the U.S. government to operate a spy ring out of his house in the Cuban countryside. This much is true...

It is the summer of '42, and
Paperback, 580 pages
Published August 1st 2000 by HarperTorch (first published 1999)
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Four Days with Hemingway's Ghost by Tom WintonPapa And Fidel by Karl AlexanderThe Crook Factory by Dan SimmonsHemingway's Suitcase by MacDonald HarrisThe Hemingway Sabbatical by Allan Conan
Obsessed with Hemingway
3rd out of 8 books — 4 voters
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke1984 by George OrwellFahrenheit 451 by Ray BradburyBrave New World by Aldous HuxleyThe Time Machine by H.G. Wells
Terrestrial SF & Fantasy
320th out of 345 books — 69 voters

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Community Reviews

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Talk about a concept that sells itself: Ernest Hemingway battles Nazis spies in Cuba during World War II. Who wouldn’t pay money to see that fight?

In this historical fiction based on Hemingway’s activities in the Caribbean during the war, Joe Lucas is an FBI agent who has been busting up Nazi intelligence networks all over North America since Pearl Harbor, but he is given a special assignment by J. Edgar Hoover himself. Ernest Hemingway has talked the US ambassador to Cuba into getting him autho
Sam Sattler
Think what you might about Ernest Hemingway’s writing, personality, attitude toward women, etc., there is no denying that the man lived life to the fullest. And, of course, he went out with a bang, further ensuring his legendary status in the world of American literature. But, as detailed in the Dan Simmons novel, The Crook Factory, there is much more to the Hemingway life story than most realize.

Lest readers be left wondering how much of the novel is based on fact, Simmons adds this clarifying
Vitor Frazão
Entretenimento puro! No início, o autor conseguia encadear os factos com a ficção, mas em certas partes sacrificava o ritmo da história para fornecer informações sobre o contexto histórico. Felizmente, à medida que nos mergulhou mais fundo nas paisagens românticas da Cuba dos anos quarenta e no mundo da espionagem durante a Segunda Guerra Mundial, Simmons abandonou essa tendência, não se deixando arrastar para a corriqueira obsessão de alguns escritores do género de “cuspir” tudo o que pesquisou ...more
THE CROOK FACTORY. (1997). Dan Simmons. ***.
In 1942, Ernest Hemingway put together a group of amateurs in Cuba and set up what he called ‘The Crook Factory.’ This was to be a spy organization whose purpose was to root out Nazi operatives who were using the island as a base for espionage. Joe Lucas, an employee of the FBI has been ordered by J. Edgar Hoover directly to go to Cuba and join up with Hemingway’s band of merry men to keep tabs on their activity. Lucas was to report directly to Hoover
May 01, 2008 John rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone
Before now, I haven't written more than a handful of reviews, as every story one reads is fairly personal in nature. I won’t even try to summarize The Crook Factory here.
I will say that this novel contained a gritty, vibrant realism which grabbed me immediately --The author's interpretation of Hemingway's behaviors and actions, as well as those of his cohorts, were amazing, like I was seeing through a window to the past. These characters are rich and deceptive, adding intrigue to the story with
As much as I like Simmons' writing, this story didn't really do much for me. Unlike The Plot Against America, I didn't particularly feel as though I was suffering by not knowing much about the "real" story behind the story, or the people who appeared as characters - I simply wasn't captivated by the story itself. Possibly I have also begun to suffer from Nazi burnout, though.

Apparently a very great deal of this book is, if not taken from, at least extrapolated from actual history. That being the
zaCk S
having only read now 4 of dan simmons' novels, i love him as a writer. i love his exact, careful style. but that style is more at home in victorian novels like Drood and Terror. but here, as in Flashback, the execution of the style falters in the face of a faster paced narrative. due to the delicate writing style, action scenes are robbed of any immediacy. couple the stylistic missteps with long passages of ver batim FBI notes and close attention to irrelevant detail, and the suspense which shou ...more
Jeff J.
I believe Dan Simmons is a severely underrated writer. He jumps between genres with abandon, and always excels. In recent years he has focused on historical novels. In The Crook Factory he takes on Ernest Hemingway's counterespionage efforts in Cuba during World War II. In the afterword Simmons claims the story is 95% true, which is all the more amazing. He manages to work in many other celebrities in the narrative, including Ian Fleming, J. Edgar Hoover, Marlene Dietrich, Gary Cooper, and more. ...more
Bill Keithler
This is a great book--author Dan Simmons created this novel which tells the story concerning the espionage activities of a group headed by author Ernest Hemingway named the Crook Factory (hence the title). Hemingway and his rag-tag group of friends, associates and volunteers form an informal band playing at surveillance and espionage during 1942 in Havana, Cuba. The group attracts the attention of a variety of government espionage agencies from the US, UK and Germany and becomes embroiled in rea ...more
Robert Clancy
Papa Hemingway, Cuba, WWII, Nazi agents, U-Boat submarine hunting, marlin fishing, shooting Thompsons, BAR's, shotguns, .357 Magnums, .38's, .22's, ex-patriate spies, OSS, FBI, Adwehr, SS, MI5, MI6, Ian Fleming, Wild Bill Donovan, J. Edgar ("the tiniest feet of any man I've ever known), Cuban prostitutes with hearts of gold, bartenders, drunken boxing matches, Marines, boxers, jai lai stars, Marlene Dietrich, Ingrid Bergman, Gary Cooper, Winston Guest, large yachts, sadistic Cuban police, secret ...more
Travis of NNY
Enjoyable historical fiction novel based on Earnest Hemingway's Crook Factory during WW2 set up to find Nazi subs.
Another Simmons home run. He again weaves fact and fiction into a tapestry of spy vs. spy, as narrated by the fictional FBI agent who becomes Hemingway's constant companion and sometimes alter-ego. Simmons once again has energized Hemingway, the man, the myth, the legend, by injecting him with a serious dose of intrigue and patriotism. Simmons' style of blending real life and make believe makes for great reading, and repeats in the excellent novel "Abominable", and his versatility shines through ...more
The book is a fact based fictional work concerning Ernest Hemingway's little-known Caribbean based spy operation in Cuba during the height of WWII. J. Edgar Hoover, tyrannical head of The Federal Bureau of Investigation, was deeply suspicious of Hemingway's supposed 'leftist leanings' and he enlisted FBI agent Joe Lucas to keep tabs on the spy ring. The novel is told from Joe's point-of-view, and initially he disliked and distrusted Hemingway, but the novel documents his change of heart towards ...more
Susan Melgren
"The Crook Factory" is the story of Ernest Hemingway's amateur spy ring (named The Crook Factory) during World War II in Cuba, told from the viewpoint of Joe Lucas, the state department agent sent by J. Edgar Hoover to keep tabs on the famous writer. The further The Crook Factory gets into their "spying," the more apparent it becomes that something mysterious is actually going on—and that it's not looking favorable for The Crook Factory.

The book starts off slow. It took me days to get through th
Matt Rohweder
I'm a huge Hemingway fan, have been since my my senior year in High School when I had to read one of his short stories for my Advanced English class - I immediately couldn't get enough. The summer after high school I binge read almost all of his novels. In university, I took every class that had him on the syllabus, including a single author class - which was like heaven.

I know a lot of people criticize his treatment of women, his vague and obtuse writing style, his hyper-masculine characteriza
Deon Stonehouse
J. Edgar Hoover played a part in the destruction of one of America’s greatest writers. Ernest Hemingway underwent electroshock therapy that curtailed his ability to craft his stories in some part because his doctors, friends, and wife believed his conviction that the FBI had him under surveillance was paranoia. In a July 1, 2011 article Hemingway’s good friend A.E. Hotchner wrote of the FBI’s effect on Hemingway. Decades later, in response to a Freedom of Information petition, the F.B.I. release ...more
WW2 espionage in Cuba starring Ernest Hemingway??? This book of historical fiction seemed sooo ridiculous that I was about to stop reading it. But fortunately I checked and found out that the vast majority of this novel was factually accurate!!! So then this book went from farfetched ridiculous to downright fascinating!
I was interested in this book because I have been to Cuba. The author uses real people and has obviously researched these individuals (Hemmingway, J. Edgar Hoover, and other famous people); however everything blurs and you can't tell reality from fantasy. I didn't enjoy the book as much as I thought I would.
Bruce Crawford
I really enjoyed this book. A delightful read. 95 % true. Hemingway. Cuba. WW II. Spy's. FBI and all the other 'Intelligence' Agencies. U-boats. While long, the journey is fast-paced. The characterizations full and complete. A great book for getting away immersed in another time, another riddle, its own education.
Jim Murray
Simmons is an amazing writer, and I particularly enjoy his historical fiction novels. Typically I know nothing of the subject he is writing about, in this case Ernest Hemingway in the 1940's, but I trust that he will make me care. He definitely succeeded in that with The Crook Factory. I would literally recommend this book to anyone just because of how good Simmons is at plot and pacing.
Darren Wacker
I honestly feel no one does historically related fiction better than Dan Simmons. Well researched, well crafted and just a great read. I highly recommend this book, plus Drood, Black Hills, The Terror and others.
I really liked this book! It's political, historical, geographical, partially fictional, and is a about a controversial literary giant.

Now I have to go read-up on my WWI through to the time the story ends! So many questions!
May 23, 2013 Yvonne marked it as to-read
Recommended to Yvonne by: Nancy Pearl
It's the summer of 1942, and FBI agent Joe Lucas has come to Cuba at the behest of the Director to keep an eye on Ernest Hemingway in the Caribbean. Lucas thinks of it as a demotion-a babysitting job for a famous writer who has decided to play spy, assembling a team of misfits including an American millionaire, a twelve-year-old Cuban orphan, a Spanish jai alai champion and more in a would-be espionage ring Hemingway dubs the "Crook Factory."

But when Hemingway uncovers a critical piece of intell
This is an excellent work of historical fiction. It's based on the famous author Ernest Hemingway's efforts to thwart Nazi spies in Cuba, where he lived. He approached the American ambassador in Havana in April 1942 and volunteered his services. Hemingway received the green light, and he proceeded with a loose collection of amateur counterspies. They get into plenty of action and, in the process, route the Nazi spy ring. J Edgar Hoover, Marlene Dietrich, Ingrid Bergman, and Gary Cooper appear. A ...more
Dan Simmons presents a near perfect blend of fact mixed with a little fiction in this spy thriller set in Cuba during America's first year in World War II. What's true may surprise you. Simmons details the facts and fiction in the reader's guide at the end, but don't read it first!

Hemingway and other real life characters (including James Bond author Ian Fleming)are peppered throughout the fast paced, no-nonsense spy tale which takes place before the actual birth of the CIA and right at the birt
Another fantastic novel by Dan Simmons. Based on true events and Ernest Hemingway, this context allows for a full and deep story punctuated by fabulous characters and an involving plot. Dan Simmons is a master storyteller.
Mar 05, 2007 prema rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: historical narrative buffs
dan simmons is fun. almost exclusively rompish... his scifi is smart & does the job of creating articulate parallel universes...which is something he does in all his books to some degree. i found the crook factory to be a truly fun read, a delightful insight (however fictional) into hemmingway & his somewhat delusional escapades in cuba. the characters are well fleshed-out, the narrative flows well, & before you know it you find yourself rooting for hemmingway & his nutty cabal i ...more
Francine Thibault
Vraiment bon. Plus histoire vécue que roman!
Steve Pifer
I pushed my way thru this one. The story is deep, chewy, and exciting and I was attracted to it to learn about Hemmingways character mainly. The book is worth the read just for that matter alone. But the adventure is gripping, has great twists, and is well written.
I like Dan Simmons books, but must make sure that I have nothing more pressing to read, or I find that I set his aside often.
This book will make me go back and read Drood again. That is a book that I have set aside too many times. Time
This is one of those rare books in which I wish I'd known more about it before I started reading: the author's list at the end of the book tells which incidents are based on actual events, and it made me realize there is a great deal of fact into which the fiction was woven. I think I would've enjoyed the entire story much more if I'd known that. As it was, I found the story moderately engaging, but nothing special, and I kept wondering why I continued to read it.
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Dan Simmons was born in Peoria, Illinois, in 1948, and grew up in various cities and small towns in the Midwest, including Brimfield, Illinois, which was the source of his fictional "Elm Haven" in 1991's SUMMER OF NIGHT and 2002's A WINTER HAUNTING. Dan received a B.A. in English from Wabash College in 1970, winning a national Phi Beta Kappa Award during his senior year for excellence in fiction, ...more
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