The Ambulance Drivers:

Hemingway, Dos Passos, and a Friendship Made and Lost in War

  • Runtime: 8.8 Hours
  • Recording: Unabridged
  • Release date: 3.28.2017
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press
  • Genre: Nonfiction/Biography & Autobiography
  • 8.85 hrs3/28/2017Unabridged
  • ISBN-13: 9781478919674

Available on March 28, 2017

After meeting for the first time on the front lines of World War I, two aspiring writers forge an intense twenty-year friendship and write some of America's greatest novels, giving voice to a "lost generation" shaken by war.

Eager to find his way in life and words, John Dos Passos first witnessed the horror of trench warfare in France as a volunteer ambulance driver retrieving the dead and seriously wounded from the front line. Later in the war, he briefly met another young writer, Ernest Hemingway, who was just arriving for his service in the ambulance corps. When the war was over, both men knew they had to write about it; they had to give voice to what they felt about war and life.

Their friendship and collaboration developed through the peace of the 1920s and 1930s, as Hemingway's novels soared to success while Dos Passos penned the greatest antiwar novel of his generation, Three Soldiers. In war, Hemingway found adventure, women, and a cause. Dos Passos saw only oppression and futility. Their different visions eventually turned their private friendship into a bitter public fight, fueled by money, jealousy, and lust.

Rich in evocative detail--from Paris cafes to the Austrian Alps, from the streets of Pamplona to the waters of Key West--The Ambulance Drivers is a biography of a turbulent friendship between two of the century's greatest writers, and an illustration of how war both inspires and destroys, unites and divides.

Editorial Reviews

Intimate, vivid, and humane, The Ambulance Drivers propels readers through the intersecting lives of two of our greatest writers. Never have Ernest Hemingway and John Dos Passos seemed so real or so important as in James McGrath Morris's account of their passage through the Great War and the rise of fascism.T.J. Stiles, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Custer's Trials
Morris writes like an expressionist painter, evoking the essence of Hemingway and Dos Passos's hard-drinking writing life in Paris, Madrid, and Key West. The Ambulance Drivers is a deft and classy literary adventure, infused with wine, beautiful women, and genuine pathos.Kai Bird, Pulitzer Prize-winning coauthor of American Prometheus
The Ambulance Drivers is an exciting, revealing, important book that evokes a fascinating era. It shows us Hemingway in a new perspective and, equally important, gives Dos Passos the major attention that he indisputably deserves.David Morrell, New York Times bestselling author of Murder as a Fine Art
In this ingenious dual narrative, James McGrath Morris gives us two lives in high contrast, rendering sharp, revelatory portraits of literary icons we thought we already knew. Writing with deep knowledge and sympathy, Morris has created something rare and fresh: a biography of a friendship.Megan Marshall, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Margaret Fuller and Elizabeth Bishop: A Miracle for Breakfast
Here is a story of war, love, and politics writ large, a story of two literary lions trapped in a double-helix relationship more powerful than either will admit. In this intricately braided dual biography, Morris shows us how the two novelists needed each other, even as they differed--often drastically so--in the way they negotiated the gravitational forces of their times.Hampton Sides, bestselling author of In the Kingdom of Ice and Ghost Soldiers
Two of the most significant writers of their generation, John Dos Passos and Ernest Hemingway, are described by Morris in his evocative, lively volume about how differently they emerged from the crucible of WWI...Morris's narrative demonstrates how, despite jealousies and differences, the two men found common ground...Dos Passos will be the less recognizable name to most readers, and Morris does a great service by reinserting him into the picture of post-WWI American writers.Publishers WeeklyMorris's evocative writing and finely tuned research brings alive the richness of the past--the thronging cafes of Paris, the mortared trenches of Italy, the bullfights of Pamplona, the sun-bleached houses of Key West--as well as the complex personalities of these two great American writers. A tragic story, beautifully written and compulsively readable.Douglas Preston, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Lost City of the Monkey God
The Ambulance Drivers is one of those rare and gratifying books that seamlessly drops gems of insight on history, art, and politics into a taut and suspenseful story of one of the great literary friendships of the twentieth century.Debby Applegate, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Most Famous Man in America
The story of the close yet volatile friendship between John Dos Passos and Ernest Hemingway...[A] lively biography of their relationship...A welcome new look at Dos Passos and another sad chapter in the life of Hemingway.Kirkus Reviews

Author Biography

James McGrath Morris is the author of Redemption, which was selected as a Washington Post Best Book of the Year for 2004. He is the editor of the monthly Biographer’s Craft, and his writing has appeared in the Washington Post, the New York Observer, and the Baltimore Sun. He lives in New Mexico.

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