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on 31 August 2016
Gangs
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on 3 May 2016
Excellent
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on 23 March 2016
Great Read
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on 25 February 2016
Good service, book as described.
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on 17 December 2015
v good
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on 18 October 2015
good book
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on 10 September 2014
As hoped for
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on 5 March 2014
This is the first biography of Hemingway I have read, after reading and enjoying a large amount of his own books, and to be honest I found a fair amount of it quite boring. Perhaps for devoted Hemingway fans this may well offer a different perspective to other biographys of the man, but I found there was no clear line or arc through the book, or much insight or analysis to many of the stories or vignettes.
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on 29 January 2014
It might seem obvious, but this is repetitive if you're not eager to find out ever more about Hemingway's life. I loved th edeatil and the honesty.
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on 14 October 2013
Arguably, the love of Ernest Hemingway's life was a thirty-eight-foot motorised fishing vessel named Pilar. Crafted from Canadian fir and high-grade Honduras mahogany, Pilar wasn't a luxurious craft but she was everything to Hemingway and they were near inseparable for twenty-seven years. As Paul Hendrickson notes in his prologue to Hemingway's Boat, Pilar "lasted through three wives, the Nobel Prize, and all [Heminway's] ruin. He'd owned her, fished her, worked her, rode her, from the waters of Key West to the Bahamas to the Dry Tortugas to the north coast and archipelagos of Cuba."

The twenty-seven years that Hemingway owned Pilar were in fact the last twenty-seven years of his life and they were years brimming with triumph and tragedy. With Hemingway's Boat Hendrickson takes a novel approach to biography by using Pilar as a device with which to explore Hemingway's life, relationships, work and ultimate decline. In Hendrickson's eyes, Pilar witnessed and represented everything Hemingway loved in life - "virility, deep-sea fishing, access to the beloved ocean, freedom, women and booze" - and so can be used to shed new light onto the fairly well-documented life of Ernest Hemingway.

Paul Hendrickson writes with a great deal of passion, particularly when discussing his visit to Cuba and first encounter with Pilar, and has clearly taken great pains to ferret out as much new information about Hemingway's life as possible. Hendrickson's writing is also particularly emotive when he's chronicling the decline of Hemingway, both physically and [to his own mind at least] as a writer, and his ultimate suicide. Unsurprisingly, there are many moving moments in Hemingway's Boat. While Hendrickson doesn't shy away from the darker aspects of Hemingway's life - it's rather telling that his most significant relationship was with a boat after all - he does highlight Hemingway's often overlooked charity to strangers and kindness to children [both his own and other people's]. Hemingway might have been a cad and a self-designed manly man but he did have a heart and character outside of his public persona which it's nice to see given room in a biography.

Ultimately, while Hemingway's Boat is overall an interesting and informative read, it is a very long book and some of the new sources explored by Hendrickson are really on the border between relevant and superfluous. Hendrickson has obviously conducted extensive interviews in order to compile Hemingway's Boat but not everyone selected for inclusion in the book is able to provide significant insight into Hemingway's life. In the case of Arnold Samuelson, for example, the wannabe writer's stay in Cuba with the Hemingway family does offer an interesting account of Hemingway's more day-to-day life as well as his creative process, but the detail provided about Samuelson's own life is perhaps a bit excessive for a book dedicated to Hemingway. Similarly, a great deal is said about the company responsible for building Pilar beyond their immediate dealings with Hemingway which is actually rather interesting in its own right but is not so obviously relevant those wanted to learn more about Ernest Hemingway.

In Hemingway's Boat Paul Hendrickson offers a new approach to the life story of Ernest Hemingway. While it perhaps doesn't deliver on the promise to present Hemingway in a whole new light, it does provide an interesting account of an extraordinary period in the great writer's life. There is quite a bit of new information in Hemingway's Boat and so, even if some of it is linked only rather tenuously to his life, Hendrickson has succeeded in introducing some new insight into Hemingway's character and relationships.
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