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Hemingway: a Life Story

4.1 of 5 stars 4.10  ·  rating details  ·  488 ratings  ·  30 reviews
Published by Scribner's. (first published January 1st 1969)
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Because I’m a son of a bitch. -- Ernest Hemingway, late 1926.

Truly. The Hemingway that emerges in Carlos Baker’s mammoth (714 pages of small print, excluding notes) is virtually impossible to like, or even – it seems -- to pity (though that changes when it comes to his last feeble year or so). The four wives (Hadley, Pauline, Martha, and Mary), the blown up marriages, the blown up friendships, the drunken arguments, the literary knifings, are all here. I don’t sense any attempt by Baker to pull
Of the book I can say I had issues with its style as a biography. Ernest felt exactly this when he did exactly that as he did this and that exactly as the sun was red and the breeze especially biting. Having read the letters, which Baker also edited, I understand his (Baker's) choice of style (and I grossly exaggerate); however, it still irks. Of the man, Ernie, what more needs to be said? Will we ever have another writer do what he has done, see what he has seen, and become what he became? Mayb ...more
As my second attempt to master this text draws toward a premature end, I have decided that this book is for reference rather than reading. Baker's erudite tome attempts to provide as much biographical detail as possible, but at nearly 700 pages plus 100 pages of notes, it is about as engaging as reading an encyclopedia. I'll keep it on the shelf in case I have a particular question. But for biographical storytelling, I'd rather read Hotchner's version.
 Dr. Michael Galvin
For Hemingway scholars this is "The Bible" according to Carlos Baker. The best single volume biography of Hemingway to date, surpassed only by the late Michael Reynolds five volume biography of Papa.
Tam Tam
I was obsessed with Hemingway in high school. This is one of the best biographies I have read about Ernest Hemingway. It only proved to me that he was as fascinating a person as his writing. His genius will never be repeated and made an impact on me as a reader that I will never forget.
Jade Dermody
After getting up to page 355/859 I did with this book something which I hate doing-I gave up! Now I'm no quitter. I've never dumped anyone, I've walked out of one movie and still have the same friends I had at 7, but sometimes things are so bad that you failed to come up with any excuse to stick with it and this book is one of those things!
I wanted to read a bio on Ernest Hemmingway to find out more about the man who I had heard so much about. I read Death in the Afternoon while living in Madri
Joy H.
Aug 02, 2012 Joy H. marked it as watched-film-only
Added 8/2/12.
I didn't read this book but I did watch, via a Netflix DVD, a film which was based on this book and also based on collected letters 1917 to 1961.

The film was: "Hemingway" (1988) - TV Mini-Series - Biography
""Stacy Keach plays Ernest Hemingway, the larger-than-life writer whose spartan prose unlocked the complex and rich world of his colorful characters. A classic troubled soul, Hemingway drank
Jon Lindsay Miles
The man rather than the work, although this is also mentioned (it is discussed at length in a previously published volume by the same author).

There were regular introductions to people and details that have no bearing whatever on the story - Baker wanted to use all his notes, perhaps - but it's a fine portrait of a driven man. Hemingway comes out of it all as an almost entirely unpleasant individual, a credible impression because the infantile behaviour that is his response to any criticism of h
Mar 29, 2013 Terry added it
Hemingway has been plaguing me as a reader ever since I read him in high school and college, but just didn't understand what I read. In Morocco in the 70s we had an older heavyset friend with a white beard. People regularly stopped him in the street to ask if he were Hemingway. At the library where I work we have a set of his first editions. On a trip to Chicago in the 90s, we visited his home in Oak Park. Another friend told me about having recognized him walking down the street in her secluded ...more
Roger Leatherwood
As other reviewers have said this book is almost overly researched, tracking every hunting trip, every cross-Atlantic voyage, and every other quotidian fact without much discussion or insight into his writing process or the poetry of his words.

But then, perhaps what EH did and what he became (or clearly from this book, tried to convince others including himself what he had become) is the insight - is the point. Like his own prose it is clear and straight-forward and only reports, presuming you k
The definitive work on Hemingway. At 714 pages, it took me some time to finish, but left me with what I had been searching for. A glimpse into the psyche, and an understanding, of Hemingway, the man. I've found nothing as thorough or as insightful as this work. And although it was the sad tale which ended in tragedy that I knew it would be, I am the better for the reading of it.
A thorough read for anyone interested in the life of Ernest Hemingway, the book has two weaknesses. The first is the author's failure to edit out extraneous information- it's interesting to know Hemingway went fishing in Petoskey, Michigan, but rather laborious to read through the number and sizes of each fish he caught on a certain day. The second weakness of the book is the author’s liberal use of French, Spanish, and Italian phrases without providing the translation, assumingly taking for gra ...more
Laura Rosa-miller
I will never forget in grade school my English teacher dismissed Ernest as a tyrant - that of course peaked my curiosity - A man before his time - I take him for who he was where he came from and his contribution in literature he was a raw man. He knew what a man craved and what a woman thinks .This book entails it all and to this book I owe the seal of love for Ernest Hemingway.
Hemingway lived life tothe fullest . . and on his own terms.

This is a wonderfully composed biography. After reading it, I feel like I've known Hemingway all my life and his premature passing is all that more tragic for me.

A thoroughly deligthful read. If you're looking for insight into his psyche, it'll be in this book.
A big book about a big man. One finds oneself overwhelmed by the range and diversity of his interests and activities. Yet at the same time able he was able to produce the most impressive prose. Baker's book is well written and chock full of interesting anecdotes about this man who knew everyone worth knowing. Impressive.
Rich Boyett

It is difficult to read a biography about someone so seemingly obnoxious and complex. What a writer and what a life.
Michael Harris
A friends of the HHI Library. A well written biography, rich in detail from a 7 year effort of tracking down those still living who feature prominently in Hemingway's life. A long read but well worth the time as it makes him come to life.
Michael Stewart
Should be called "AN EXHAUSTIVE LIFE STORY". Considering the life in question, the narrative is rather plodding and academic. I read the entire 715 pages of text, but eschewed the 200+ pages of references.
Aug 17, 2007 Sanchez rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who like biographies
A large and great book. It's not an easy read at first, but I was riveted by the end and I have a whole new outlook on his work. I'm currently in a Biography/auto-biography phase.

Hemingway bio,a guy who defined macho, insecurity, and insensitivity. He became a caricature of himself but he also coud write, there is no denying that.
A very good, if a bit long and detailed, of the life of Papa. Not much about his Key West years, however. For that, I highly recommend Hemingway's Boat.
Feb 13, 2012 Marge added it
Long, long, long - skipped a lot of details (people, places, etc.) - but what a life and he only lived to 62!
This is as authoritative a text as you're going to find about Hemingway. Guaranteed to have that 'old book' smell.
Raimo Wirkkala
The definitive bio of the man and a true classic of biography.
an excellent, detailed and very true biography of Papa.
First Last
Fascinating read about a mostly fascinating man...
Very, very detailed. Leaves no stone unturned.
Hemingway was jerk but a compelling one...
only made it half way
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“We're kicking our way into adolescence from the minute we're born. Gradually you form your own ideas of how you should lead your life. It's strange, but when you get hurt - really hurt, I mean - you're willing to throw those ideas aside for another set that now make sense to you and calm your hurt.” 4 likes
“Sunday morning dawned bright and cloudless. Ernest awoke early as always. He put on the red "Emporor's robe" and padded softly down the carpeted stairway. The early sunlight lay in pools on the living room floor. He had noticed that the guns were locked up in the basement. But the keys, as he well knew, were on the window ledge above the kitchen sink. He tiptoed down the basement stairs and unlocked the storage room. It smelled as dank as a grave. He chose a double-barreled Boss shotgun with a tight choke. He had used it for years of pigeon shooting. He took some shells from one of the boxes in the storage room, closed and locked the door, and climbed the basement stairs. If he saw the bright day outside, it did not deter him. He crossed the living room to the front foyer, a shrinelike entryway five by seven feet, with oak-paneled walls and a floor of linoleum tile. He had held for years to the maxim: "il faut (d'abord) durer". Now it had been succeeded by another: "il faut (apres tout) mourir". The idea, if not the phrase, filled all his mind. He slipped in two shells, lowered the gun butt carefully to the floor, leaned forward, pressed the twin barrels against his forehead just above the eyebrows, and tripped both triggers.” 2 likes
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