The Ambulance Drivers: Hemingway, Dos Passos, and a Friendship Made and Lost in War

By James McGrath Morris
Read by Dean Temple

8.85 Hours 03/28/2017 unabridged
Format: Digital Download
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    ISBN: 9781478919674

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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 cafés 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.

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Summary

Summary

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 cafés 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

Editorial Reviews

“Morris’ 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
“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.” Hampton Sides, New York Times bestselling author
“The story of Hemingway and Dos Passos is as exciting as any of their novels…A quick-paced narrative that weaves back and forth between the two men’s lives…A riveting and rollicking good read…Sanitizing any dry academic influences, [McGrath Morris] pares his subjects down to an essence that makes them seem real…The book is hard to put down, and leaves us feeling closer to these two remarkable men…There’s no doubting that the lives of this generation of writers forms every bit as important a part of their story as the books they produced. The Ambulance Drivers offers a delightful and entertaining entry into that world. Popmatters
“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
“Morris writes like an expressionist painter, evoking the essence of Hemingway and Dos Passos’ hard-drinking writing life in Paris, Madrid, and Key West.” Kai Bird, Pulitzer Prize-winning author
“A well-researched book…For Hemingway and Dos Passos fans, this will be a must-read…A compelling examination of an at-times frail, turbulent and broken friendship.” Army Ancestry Research blog
"[A] highly entertaining biography of a decades-long and often rivalrous literary friendship.” Santa Fe New Mexican
“Morris’ narrative demonstrates how, despite jealousies and differences, the two men found common ground.” Publishers Weekly
“A welcome new look at Dos Passos and another sad chapter in the life of Hemingway.” Kirkus 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
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, author of Murder as a Fine Art
“[A] riveting biography.” New York Journal of Books
“A superb examination of the bond that helped shape the modern literary movement in America…A fascinating read that will satisfy specialized scholars and general audiences alike with its careful research and highly readable narrative. The book offers more than straight biography of two of the 20th century’s most important American authors-it intertwines selections from works they were producing at significant points in their lives…Morris is masterful in his weaving of the Hemingway and Dos Passos timelines…Morris is adept at making the historical record lifelike, giving a palpable sense of the climate in which these modern writers were forged…Thoughtful and engaging…The Ambulance Drivers will do for Hemingway criticism what Scott Donaldson’s vigorous Hemingway and Fitzgerald: The Rise and Fall of a Literary Friendship did in 1999: offer a complete post-mortem analysis of a critically important friendship that had a part in shaping a literary movement. Washington Independent Review of Books
“Morris tugs the reader into the boozy, bitchy world of his protagonists. Famous friends bustle in and out…As readable as a novel.” Economist (London)

Reviews

Reviews

Author

Author Bio: James McGrath Morris

James McGrath Morris is the author of several books, including Eye on the Struggle: Ethel Payne, The First Lady of the Black Press, which was awarded the Benjamin Hooks National Book Prize, and the highly acclaimed Pulitzer: A Life in Politics, Print, and Power. He has appeared on NPR’s All Things Considered, PBS’s News Hour, and C-Span’s Book TV. A former journalist, he was the founding editor of the monthly Biographer’s Craft and has served as both the executive director and president of Biographers International Organization.

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Details

Details

Available Formats : Digital Download
Category: Nonfiction/Biography & Autobiography
Runtime: 8.85
Audience: Adult
Language: English