The Hemingway Patrols
Ernest Hemingway and His Hunt for U-Boats
By Terry Mort
(Scribner Book Company, Paperback, 9781416597872, 272pp.)
Publication Date: September 3, 2011
List Price: $17.99*
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A fascinating account of a dramatic, untold chapter in Hemingway’s life—his pursuit of German U-boats during World War II.
From the summer of 1942 until the end of 1943, Ernest Hemingway lived in Havana, Cuba, and spent much of his time in the Gulf Stream hunting German sub- marines in his wooden fishing boat, The Pilar. This phase of Hemingway’s life has only been briefly touched upon in biographies of Hemingway but proved to be of enormous importance to him. At the time, the U-boats were torpedo- ing dozens of Allied tankers each month and threatened America’s ability to wage war in Europe. Hemingway’s patrols were supported by the U.S. Navy, and he viewed these danger- ous missions as both patriotic duty and pure adventure. But they were more than that: they provided some literary basis for The Old Man and the Sea and Islands in the Stream.
Terry Mort’s sensitive portrait of Hemingway also brings us his wife Martha Gellhorn (who was scornful of Hemingway’s patrols), a naval account of the U-boat attacks in the vicinity, and a perceptive contemplation of what the patrols meant to Hemingway the man as well as the artist. Drawing on the writer’s letters, Gellhorn’s memoirs, and the sailor’s log of The Pilar, Mort reveals an important chapter in the life of a literary legend.