Writer, Sailor, Soldier, Spy: Ernest Hemingway’s Secret Adventures, 1935-1961


>>I guess it’s good afternoon now, isn’t
it? It’s now noon. I am Mark Bradley, the Director of Information
Security Oversight office here at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. What I’d like to call the dark side of the
archives. We do the classified work here. So ergo why I’m here and because I’m a life-long
friend of our speaker today. I’m pleased to welcome you to the William
McGowan Theater. Whether you were here in the theater or watching
on YouTube, we’re glad you could join us for today’s discussion of the new book, “Writer,
Sailor, Soldier, Spy: Ernest Hemingway’s Secret Adventures, 1935-1961,” with author Nicholas
Reynolds. Before we get started, I want to tell you
about two other programs that are coming very soon to the McGowan Theater. Thursday, September 7 at noon, we’ll screen
the film, “American Experience: A Class Apart,” which was built around the 1954 case Hernandez
v. Texas. A broader story of the Civil Rights Movement
and brings to light the post-World War II struggle to dismantle discrimination. Tuesday September 12 at noon, Journalist Mark
Bowden will be here to discuss his book, “Hue: The Turning Point of the War in Vietnam.” In January 1968 the fighting of Vietnam was at a stalemate, Bowden discusses the Tet offensive and how the North Vietnamese plan to win the war with uprising
across southern Vietnam. Mark, as you know is an excellent writer and
speaker. So I encourage you to come to that if you
can. His talk will mark the first in a series of
public discussions, book lectures with the upcoming exhibit “Remembering Vietnam.” opening in the Laurence F. O’Brien gallery opining on November 10th. Veteran’s day. To learn about these and all our public programs
and exhibits, consult our calendar of events online at archives.gov. Printed copies are available in the lobby. Another way to get more involved with the
archives is to become a member of the National Archives Foundation. Pick up your application for membership in
the lobby or become a member at archivesfoundation.org. Turning to today. Military intelligence expert and historian
Nicholas Reynolds shares a cloak and dagger epic. A stunning untold story of Noble Prize-winning
novelist Ernest Hemingway’s dangerous secret life including his role as a Soviet agent codenamed Argo, that fueled his art and ultimately his undoing. In 2010 when he was a historian at the CIA
Museum. The best museum no one has ever visited? [Laughter]
Nicholas Reynolds began to uncover clues suggesting Hemingway was deeply involved in mid-twentieth-century spy-craft. A mysterious and shocking relationship that
was far more complex and fraught with risks than have ever previously been supposed. He meticulously researched the captivating
narrative “Writer, Sailor, Soldier, Spy.” Reveals for the first time the whole story of the hidden side of Hemingway’s life. His troubling recruitment by Soviet spies to work with the forerunner to the KBG and SBR. Followed, in short order, by a complex set of secret relationships with American intelligence services. Reviewing Nick’s book, Bob Hoover of the The Minnesota star tribune writes an engrossing
read for Hemingway buffs as well as casual readers. “Writer, Sailor, Soldier, Spy” adds more details
to a life that was already fascinating. Co-author of Spies the Rise and Fall of the
KGB and America calls Nick’s book a thorough and highly readable account of Ernest Hemingway’s engagement with espionage, American and Soviet, Communism and military adventure. “[An] engrossing story of Hemingway’s
disillusionment with American politics, his sympathy with communism, and his attraction
to adventure and subversion.” In the acknowledgment section of his book,
Nick thanked staff members of the National Archives of Washington, D.C. and college park
and the presidential libraries. He specifically recognizes several staff members
at the Kennedy library which houses the Ernest Hemingway collection. With their capable assistance to tell this
fascinating story. A bit about Nick whom I’ve known now for 37
years. Nicholas Reynolds has worked in modern military
history and intelligence off and on for 40 years with some unusual detours. From Oxford university in the UK he joined
the Marine Corps in the 1970s serving as an infantry officer and then as a historian. He became officer in charge of field history
deploying historians around the world to capture history as it was being made. He served as a CIA officer most recently as
an historian for the CIA Museum. He tries his hand at farming, writing a novel
and mountain climbing. One of his proudest moments was making it
to the glaciated peak of mount baker at the age of 64. He teaches as an adjunct professor at Johns
Hopkins university and with his wife Peggy cares for rescue pugs. Please join me in welcoming my friend and
colleague, Nicholas Reynolds. [Applause]
>>Nicholas Reynolds: Thank you so much, Mark for the kind remarks and for 37 years of friendship,
but who’s counting, right? [Laughter]
Another 37, I hope. What I would like to do is talk about how
I came to write the book. And then I’ll take you through some of Hemingway’s
adventures, and then take questions. So I’m not going to give away the whole plot
of the of the book, but we’ll give you some background and some of the context. So as Mark indicated, this story starts with
me not planning to write a book. I was doing something else. I was working at the CIA Library and the CIA
Museum and we were putting together an exhibit on World War II which was going to be about
kind of the origins of American central intelligence, lower case, initially. So during World War II as most of you probably
know, there was an organization called OSS, the office of strategic services. And that was the forerunner of CIA. So it was a pick-up team, a war time pick-up
team. Considering the U.S. basically started from
nothing, they did a pretty good job. There was really no American — no standalone
American intelligence agency before OSS stepped into the breach. So what I was trying to do was come up with
a little background on the OSS and some context that we could use to write a museum pub and
to put up this exhibit. So a little bit of planning, a little bit
of writing about content. And one of the ways I did this was to look
at who was in OSS. I had a dim memory from my childhood of reading
a great book called “Is Paris Burning?” Collins and La Pierre and that was what Hitler
called to ask his commander in Paris when the Germans were about to evacuate Paris. And the answer was no. And Hemingway was involved in this. I remember that Hemingway was involved in
this. So I thought well, I wonder if there’s a Hemingway
connection with OSS that’s strong enough to appear in this exhibit. So I researched the Hemingways and went out
to College Park where the OSS records are and I searched on Hemingway. And I came up not just with Ernest, but his
brother Lester and his son Jack. So this is kind of like a precursor drug. This is like you start getting hooked on the
hard stuff by taking too much low-dose aspirin. [Laughter]
So anyway. I thought this was remarkable. 130 million people in the United States more
or less. Never more than 13,000 people in OSS on any
given day. And here’s the three military age Hemingway
brothers, actually, Ernest was actually too old for World War II, but nobody told him. And they found their way to OSS individually. It wasn’t like, hey, I’m trying out for OSS,
why don’t you try out too? No, Lester, Ernest and Jack found their way
separately to OSS. So that was a marker on my road to writing
this book. And what eventually happened was I started
to do research more for myself than for the museum. I did what the museum wanted me to. I did my work for the exhibit, but then I
continued doing this research on my own. So another really significant marker on this
road was when I went down to the CIA Library, which actually is kind of like any library
in the world, except it’s on the CIA property. It’s got books, it’s got librarians. If there are classified books, I don’t often
where they are. [Laughter]
All of the books — it’s a reference library, basically. And I looked at all the likely places for
information on Hemingway in World War II and Hemingway’s relationship with American intelligence. So now I start looking in slightly less likely
places, and one of the books I pulled off the shelf was a book called Spies by Haynes,
Klehr and Vassiliev published in 2009. It was about soviet espionage in the United
States from 1933 to pretty much 1945 when they lost their initiative. So I use a really sophisticated research technique
of going to the index and looking under “H.” [Laughter]
And I’m used to finding one or two references to Hemingway. And Hemingway is usually used in books like
that to supply context for the book. So as in, in the year that Hemingway published
for whom the bell tolls, this and that happened in the world of intelligence or politics. But this was the other way around. So, there was a chapter or a sub-chapter on
Hemingway, about 10 or 12 pages and it included verbatim quotes from his file, from his soviet
file. And in that file, it states that in late 1940
or early 1941, he was recruited for our work for ideological reasons. Now I’ve
really got to feed the habit. Still wasn’t intending to write a book. I thought I would write an article or two
and that would be it. And that led me on kind of a six-year quest. Archives, both coasts. England. Parts of the soviet — there are soviet archives
here in the Library of Congress, which contain the crucial papers. So ultimately, I wind up writing a book on
Hemingway and espionage and take that piece, that key sentence there that speaks to his
recruitment by the Soviets, and put it in context. And explain what it does — you know, how
does it fit into the rest of Hemingway’s life and what does it mean for Hemingway scholarship. How should we think of Hemingway now in light
of that fact. So that’s basically what the book’s about. And I’ll be happy to go in more detail in
the question and answer. But right now, I’d like to take you on a little
trip through — these are some of the milestones I cover in the book. And some of the individuals that we meet along
the way. So the book starts in 1935, and at that point
Hemingway lives in key west, in this lovely house, which is still standing. And it has survived multiple hurricanes and
will survive the next one as well. It’s built out of very solid stone and sits
on a piece of high ground to the extents there is high ground in key west. [Laughter]
And that’s where he was living in 1935 as a hurricane approached. That hurricane swept by Key West. Didn’t do much to Key West, but it did strike
higher up in the Keys and the result was the death of hundreds of veterans who were there
on basically working on relief. They were building an overseas highway from
the mainland to Key West. In those days you couldn’t drive the whole
way. So you drove part way and then you took the
ferry you flew, or you took the train, up until this hurricane washed the tracks away. So Hemingway went up there, and he was outraged
by what he saw. And he blamed the U.S. Government. He was pretty much apolitical before this
time, but this is kind of his — this is his wake-up call. This is when he starts to get involved in
politics. And he starts by criticizing the American
establishment very bitterly. About the same time, one of the themes of
this story or any Hemingway story is what a lot of living this guy did! [Laughter]
Hemingway had more adventures in his 60, almost 61 years, than most of us in this room combined. He’s already — when the story starts, he’s
already been married twice. This is number 3. This is Martha Gellhorn. I kind of like this picture which is not — I
don’t think you’ll see this in other books. And I found it in the archives in Boston. And the crease leads me to think — these
are Hemingway’s family photos. The crease leads me to think that maybe this
photo was in Ernest’s wallet for a few years. I think it’s kind of a fetching picture. Beautiful young lady, ten years younger than
Ernest, literally walks into his bar in Key West and befriends him and eventually becomes
his wife. She’s an enabler of this story. I don’t mean to say that she was a soviet
agent in any way, but she enables him to open up to the left politically and to absorb a
whole new set of experience. And that experience is the Spanish Civil War. So again, here’s a guy that’s got just so
much adventure going in his life. Here he is with the New York Times guy, Herbert
L. Matthews. It looks like Ernest is holding a shell. Again, something I don’t do on a daily basis. And I kind of get a kick out of this for a
couple reasons. One is to make that point. The other is Herbert L. Matthews is going
to reappear in this story later on. This is a guy who wears a coat and tie all
the time. They’re at war. They’re in a war zone. What do they do on a daily basis? They get in a car, they drive to the front
and take pictures and interview people. Matthews is wearing, in this case, a three-piece
suit. Different times, I think. OK. So not only does he meet interesting people
like Matthews and participate in the war, but he meets some pretty bad guys too. That set the stage for what’s going to happen
later on in his life. And this is one of them. This is a guy who called himself Alexander
Orlov, he had multiple names. He was the soviet intelligence in those days. And he is the NKVD, chief of station, from
1936 to 1938 in Spain. And he is a very accomplished spy. Spoke a number of languages, an expert in
guerilla warfare and he befriends Ernest. They drink together a couple times. He shows Ernest the training camp for communist
guerillas. And he may have facilitated Ernest’s visit
to the guerilla camp where he spent four days. And that is the experience that’s at the heart,
that drives had plot for whom the bell tolls. Anyway, Alexander Orlov, that’s probably his
first brush with soviet intelligence, the really hard-core part. OK. The soviet intelligence, they’re a bad penny. It just doesn’t seem to go away from Ernest’s
life, at least not really fast. This is a man named Jacob Golos who lives
in New York City, and he’s one of the linchpins of soviet intelligence in the United States. So he’s the facilitator for many cases, many
American cases. And there were hundreds of American cases. For many American cases, he’s the developer
and the recruiter. He plays a role in the Manhattan project and
he runs a lot of cases here in Washington, out of New York, and the poor OSS. OSS has 18, count them, 18 soviet penetrations. And a lot of them are run by this guy. And he is the man who pitches Ernest. He’s 5’2″, those are blue eyes. He’s got red hair. He’s pretty well dressed in this picture,
but usually it’s kind of shabby. His lifelong profession is revolutionary. He is kind of a true believer in communist
utopia, and that’s what he dedicates his life to. He also likes the ladies. But if he had to choose between the ladies
and revolution, he would pick revolution. So Jacob Golos, another important person in
our story. OK. How do we know what I’m telling you about
Hemingway and espionage? So these are transcripts of soviet intelligence
files made by one of the authors of Spies and this you can find in the Library of Congress. If folks are interested, I can get into the
details in the question and answer. But basically this is a pretty typical intelligence
file, and it details things that happened in the Hemingway case. That word up there is Hemingway. And I’ll show you the English translation
so you can see a little bit of operational detail from this case. Anyway. So I think these documents are solid. I think that there’s a remarkable story behind
them. And I think it’s almost a matter of fact that
Hemingway — you know, you could take a — it would be perfect if you could go to Moscow
and order the original documents in the S VR reading room. That doesn’t happen. The only country that really lets you look
at intelligence documents is this one. So I think we should count our blessings. There may be times when you’re frustrated
with CIA or F.B.I. or whatever, but compared to the rest of the world, the U.S. intelligence
agencies are remarkably open. Anyway, you cannot go see this in Moscow,
alas. If you could, then it would be an even stronger
case, and you could see the rest of Hemingway’s file. We only see about 12 pages. All right. So more adventure. More back to the theme of this is a guy who
gets around. And he goes, after he gets married to Gellhorn. He and Gellhorn go to Spain together. He moves further to the left. His wife suspects initially and then she knows. She’s willing to take her on her back and
Hemingway divorces her and marries her. But they have a lot of adventure together
and one is to go to China for their honeymoon basically, and to report on the Sino-Japanese
war there. Hemingway is a guy who is not just a reporter. He starts out as a reporter, of course, but
he’s not just a reporter who has to ask for — he’s not like the — you know, you look
at the White House press briefings and there’s 20 or 30 reporters there all raising their
hand trying to get attention. Well, Ernest gets the one-on-one. That’s Madam Shanghishec and that’s one side
of the anti-Japanese Spanish coalition. And the other side is of course, the communists. And when Hemingway is there in Spain, he is
summoned to see and hear the communist side of their appreciation of the political situation
at the time. We don’t know for sure that he also met with
Mao who I think is one of the great villains in history. Here looks kind of like — you know, kind
of looks friendly and appealing and young. But this picture is among Hemingway’s private
pictures. And so it leads you to wonder whether Hemingway
took it himself and if he met Mao as well as Chao while out there. So they’re in China for a few months and then
the U.S. gets into World War II. They go back to the Caribbean. Hemingway leaves his family and the home that
we looked at initially in Key West and basically takes this lovely boat and moves it to Cuba. She’s still there. The Pilar. And there, Gellhorn rents a house he eventually
buys and Hemingway gets involved in another set of remarkable adventures, using this boat
as a submarine hunter. So this is a boat that’s 38 feet long, certainly
less than 5 tons. Hemingway’s idea is with this boat, he’s going
to hunt “these boats.” [Laughter]
Which it’s not quite as crazy as it sounds. Thank God they never got close enough. But it does kind of make sense if you look
at this map. It’s a German map showing various features
in the Caribbean and Cuban waters. And there’s Havana right there. Florida is basically pointing at Havana. And Hemingway lives near Havana. And the U boats, that’s the natural channel
for the U boats to use to get from the Atlantic to the Gulf of Mexico or down around to the
Caribbean. So it’s not totally crazy to say that you
should be on the lookout for German submarines there. It is stretching it a little to say that you’re
going to go beyond just looking for German submarines. If you see one, you’re going to try and fight
it with your little wooden boat. [Laughter]
So, more Hemingway adventure. But the war moves across the Atlantic to the
other side, and Hemingway decides eventually that he’s got to go. Martha has been pressuring him and says the
main event is going to be in Europe. Hemingway ultimately gives in and goes just
before D Day, he gets to England. He grew this beard because of a skin problem
that he had while he was patrolling for German submarines. Anyway, he becomes a correspondent. This is his government ID as a correspondent. He’s a little overweight at this point. 220 pounds. There’s a substantial paunch that he has for
a few years. And he has some remarkable adventures while
he’s in Europe. Which include one of the places. This is one of the milestones I talked about
earlier. And here he does team up with OSS for a few
days. This guy, the guy on the left there is the
head of OSS in Europe. The guy in the middle is a French communist
partisan from a group that is allied to the group that Hemingway visited in Spain. There’s a remarkable — these characters — there
are themes that reoccur in Hemingway’s life, and that’s one of them. And then there’s also another theme that you
can see in this picture, and that’s alcohol. If you look closely, you’ll see he’s holding
a wine glass in his right hand, and the gentleman on his life is holding a bottle which he appears
to have just poured into Hemingway’s wine glass. If you have to go to war, France is a great
place to go to war, especially if you can hang out and be supplied with French wine. So I’m kind of tired now after all of Ernest’s
adventures. But he’s not. One of the themes of his life is the amount
of energy and sort of the — I’m not a psychiatrist, but there is sort of a manic-depressive wave
that you see going through his life. So he’s kind of on a manic stage now. As if three wives aren’t enough, he’s going
to go for four. And he meets Mary Welsh, a correspondent who
spent most of the war in London and falls in love with her and she becomes his fourth
wife. OK. So what do they do after World War II? The Hemingways go back to Cuba and Ernest
starts to write war novels. He said he’s writing a great war novel. Part of which appears eventually in slightly
different form in “The Old Man and the Sea.” And then there’s a book called “islands in
the stream” which is published posthumously. The red scare happens. The lady on the right is — they called her
the blond spy queen. She actually wasn’t blond, as you can see. She had dark hair. She’s a Vassar graduate and she’s Jacob Golos’
lover and she was also the assistant in running soviet cases in the United States. So she defects to the F.B.I. That’s a very interesting story in itself. Why she did that. Part of it was that Golos had died and she
didn’t like the people the Soviets sent after that. Anyway, she tells them everything she knows,
and then she writes her memoirs. They’re serialized, and she testifies up on
the hill, not too far from where we’re standing now. And this is one of those days. And she was a great witness by the way. She had a fabulous memory, and the F.B.I.
was able to corroborate almost everything that she told them. And the F.B.I., she had kind of a sad life
after this — she didn’t have a great life before this — and the reason she joined the
party, she had a social conscience, but also she was lonely and looking for companionship. The F.B.I. pretty much took care of her for
the rest of her life. So, part of what I trace in the book is Hemingway
— these allegations and this information about soviet intelligence is coming out. And even though he wasn’t the greatest spy
the Soviets ever recruited, he’s got to be looking over his shoulder and wondering after
Golos recruited him, he and Bentley are living in the village in New York. Can you imagine? So you recruit this great American author,
and you go back to — let’s call her field wife — you go back to your field wife, who’s
doing the same work. You’d have to be amazingly disciplined to
not say, you wouldn’t believe who I just signed up. But apparently, he was. He wasn’t a perfect spy. He wasn’t really trained. But he was trained in the ways of the spyratorial
life. So it appears he did not tell her about Hemingway
and she never said anything about Hemingway. But Hemingway had to wonder, you know? Is she going to — is that going to come out. And he was already a little edgy about this
kind of stuff, because he was considered a premature anti-Fascists, because he had butted
heads with the F.B.I. and because there’s the streaks of paranoia running through his
life. He’s already looking over his shoulder, waiting
for the IRS, the FBI, you know, some federal agency that’s going to come after him. So while he’s in Cuba — he could have lived
somewhere in Florida, or he could have moved to Idaho early and had a less dramatic life. But what’s going on in these years in Cuba? Castro is fighting the Batista regime. We know he’s basically a supporter of Castro
and a friend of the guy on the right there, Fuegos. I would say the guy with the beard —
[Laughter] That describes a lot of them, doesn’t it? Anyway, so Hemingway is involved in this revolution
in some way, in an undetermined way, but he is in favor of it. So who comes back into the story? It’s this guy. It’s Matthews. He was the guy with the tie, still wearing
a tie. Though this is, to be fair, a formal picture. He comes back and this is the last scoop of
his life. After the Spanish Civil War, he went to New
York and became an editor. He was a little bored and looking for fulfillment. He had always been in love with the Spanish
republic, the anti-Fascist cause and sees something similar in Castro, as Castro is
battling Batista. He hangs out with Hemingway and together they
refight the Spanish Civil War. They see the Cuban revolution through the
eye glasses that they acquired during the Spanish Civil War. Matthews writes three articles that appear
over the fold in the New York Times. And they resuscitate Castro’s revolution at
a time when his fortunes were down and the government, Batista government was saying
he was dead. And Matthews’ story. Matthews goes to Cuba and hangs out in the
forest with Castro. Smokes these awful cigars, giant cigars. Huffing and puffing. And then he writes a story, Castro is alive. And that is a sensation. It puts Castro back on the map. Castro might have gotten back on the map by
himself. There was a group of people who loved Matthews
for this, and there was a group of people who said, you’ve done a terrible thing. Especially as Castro moves to the left. Castro, before the revolution, always side-stepped the question of whether or not he was a communist. He says I believe in humanism and democracy. Are you a communist? My brother is? Are you a communist? My brother is, I believe in humanism and democracy. Pay your money and make your choice. Was he a secret communist that was unveiled
over time or moved to the left over time. So all of this wears Hemingway out. That’s not just my opinion, I think any Hemingway
biographer would tell you this. And Hemingway winds up — this is at the time
his 60th birthday. All of the pressures that have built up in
high life are coming home to roost. He’s demonstrably slowing down. The argument in my book is the pressure that
hasn’t really been adequately appreciated up to now is the political pressure. That with the Soviets, his support for Castro
and then the bay of pigs comes in April 1961. Hemingway always wanted to have it both ways. He wanted to be able to keep his place in
Cuba, which he had had by that time, for about 20 years. His friends. That was his home. And he also wanted to stay a loyal American
citizen. After the bay of pigs, it’s impossible and
he realizes this. If you look at Hemingway suicide attempts,
you see that right after the bay of pigs, he makes a serious suicide attempt. And then he makes two or three more and then
ultimately winds up killing himself in the summer of 1961. And then — so poor Hemingway. He’s barely dead in the grave. But Hemingway scholarship starts right away. And one of the biggest issues is whether he
committed suicide. His wife said he did not commit suicide. That it was an accident when he was cleaning
his guns. But this guy, a guy named Emmett Watson, who
is Hemingway’s kind of reporter. He works for the Seattle Post intelligencer
there. And he is the guy that used to covering the
docks and baseball and he worked as a longshoreman. He drank coffee, smoked three or four packs
of cigarettes and had a drink or two. He’s again, the kind of guy that weaves in
and out of the story and makes it so interesting. He got the story on Hemingway and Castro. And Hemingway opened up earlier after Castro
seized power and got the whole story. And then after Hemingway dies, he goes to
Idaho and he does what he does best. Instead of going and asking for interviews
with the big guys, with the Hemingway family or the main citizens of the town, he goes
and interviews the barkeep, the doorman, the guy who works for the funeral home. And he gets the story, and he’s the first
one to bring the story that Hemingway’s death was a suicide. So anyway, that’s the rough outline from the
story. And at this point I’d be happy to take any
question said that you might have. [Applause]
Yes, sir. If you would be so kind as to go to the microphones
for your questions.>>I just finished your book last night. It’s absolutely fascinating.>>Nicholas Reynolds: Thank you.>>For someone who’s read about Hemingway,
who’s visited the home in Havana and the home in Key West. And also, I was on the staff of the Senate
intelligence committee for a good many years, back to the church committee. Handling oversight of the F.B.I. Really got two questions. First is when he was recruited, was that period,
40-41, of the Nazi soviet pact. How could Hemingway as a leftist have been
attracted to the pitch at a period like that when so many were falling away from the party
since Stalin had essentially signed up to let Hitler have his way?>>Nicholas Reynolds: His timing was awful. [Laughter]
You know, up until the time of the pact, the Hitler-Stalin pact, all the same pact. In September — or was it August. Actually, August 1939. The Soviets and the Nazis sign a nonaggression
pact. So they basically sort of allies. — they’re basically sort of allies. His argument was Stalin needed some breathing
space there. So he viewed it as a tactical move by Stalin
and forgave him. But as you point out, that was a lonely position
to take, because so many left-leaning and communists Americans said, that’s it; I’m
out of here.>>The other question has to do with his view
that the FBI was all over him. When you read other biographers, there’s even
more detail as to his thought. And there was one biographer who sort of bought
into this idea. And what were your findings about the FBI
surveillance of Hemingway?>>Nicholas Reynolds: I say it didn’t happen. Hemingway’s F.B.I. file is about 120, 130
pages. And what that file is mostly about is Cuba. And when Hemingway was involved with the embassy,
and basically poaching on F.B.I. turf there, running counter intelligence operations against
suspected fascists. That’s what most of the file is about. The rest of the file is kind of like a clipping
file. Somebody saw something interesting about Hemingway,
oftentimes it’s a newspaper article, they pop it in there. Or somebody ran into Hemingway on a social
circuit, sent a report in. It’s not a surveillance file. So if they were surveilling Hemingway, that
file would be hundreds of pages long. Like a Dutch communist that Hemingway knew,
Ivan’s file is five, six, seven times, Hemingway’s size. So basically, they did not have an investigation
open. As you know that’s a term of art for the F.B.I. If the F.B.I. has an investigation open, they
are working towards, trying to build a case and see if they can take it to court. This is kind of like — you know, this is
J. Edgar Hoover’s reading file. To keep him up to date on what’s going on
with Hemingway. What Hoover didn’t like about Hemingway was
the thought that Hemingway might write something bad about the F.B.I. And that was a main concern for Hoover as
he builds up the F.B.I. and protected its reputation. So that’s the block that he was in. I’m a little — if you consider me a Hemingway
scholar — I am kind of on a limb here. Because everybody else — almost everybody
else, goes the other way. Hotchner, especially, who was a Hemingway
biographer and Hemingway associate for a number of years. Hotchner is still alive by the way. 102, 103. He told me he was not interested in talking
to me. [Laughter]
Yes, sir.>>Thank you. I’m from the Caribbean, from a very small
island. I have two questions. The first question would be, you didn’t touch
on this: How do you see all of this spying or involvement in all of these different activities
influence his writing? His works. Do you see elements of that in his works? That’s the first question. And the second question is a much more — I
have a problem remembering the name. At the very late 1950s, beginning of the 1960s,
a group of Americans, electorals, artists got together to create an organization, to
in essence give a different view of the Cuban revolution in America as it became more and
more seen as radicalizing and moving a different direction. Did Hemingway play any role — I’m sorry that
I don’t have the name of the organization. But did Hemingway play any role. In that sense you say he was playing off both
sides. Did he remain over time sympathetic to the
revolution, or did he become increasingly like a lot of different people became increasingly
kind of alienated from the revolution, with the hope that this was going to be a new way
of doing things.>>Nicholas Reynolds: So three questions. The first question is how is this story reflected
in Hemingway’s work or what’s the relationship between the two. Hemingway wrote one book that is frankly,
about intelligence and it’s about counterintelligence during the Spanish Civil War. And he cast himself as this hero of that. And to me, what he shows in that book is he
was involved in some way, day to day work, of counterintelligence in the Spanish Civil
War. That’s the only kind of classic espionage
in his work. I also advance the argument that Hemingway’s
— what Hemingway writes after World War II is a lot less political than what he wrote
before World War II. So “For Whom the Bell Tolls” is to me,
one of the great novels of the twentieth century. And it’s a call to arms. It says, hey, get your gun and go out and
fight fascism. What he writes after World War II is fishing,
hunting in Africa, bull fighting, and Paris. Then he writes a couple of novels that are
published after his death. Those are what he publishes in the ’50s. At least you can make the argument that’s
not a political statement by and large. The third question was about him and Castro
and the American group. I do not know of that group. Hemingway played a role in preparing Castro
for his first visit to the United States, which was in April 1959. He basically prepped him for press conferences
here in the United States. And then as Castro moved to the left and became
increasingly anti-American, Hemingway became more uncomfortable. He thought his position was up until he died
he often had a soft spot for the Cuban revolution. What I like to see is Hemingway is not like
the guy down at the State Department who’s telling you what the policy is. The spokesman for the State Department or
somebody who writes a well-reasoned foreign policy position. He is basically a novelist, an artist and he
has political attitudes and sympathies. That’s the way I look at his view of Cuba
and the revolution.>>I wanted to touch base on one of the themes
you mentioned. Some pictures of him holding a glass. I don’t know how much of a boozer he was,
but at his home in Key West he has a urinal used for a water fountain afterwards. When people say he looks like a good guy to
recruit. He drinks a lot and knows a lot of people
and hangs out with a lot with these crowds. There’s a double-edged sword to that. While he is a strategic person that asked
the right questions while keeping his mouth shut. What is your interpretation of why they said
let’s recruit Hemingway?>>Great question. There’s a couple ways to answer that and one
would be from the point of view of a targeter for an intelligence organization. Do you want to hire the guy who drinks too
much no matter what he brings to the table? And in the book, I go into the unofficial
application — his unofficial application to OSS, which was basically put forward by
Martha. And OSS staff comes to the conclusion, hey
we can’t control this guy. He’s too independent and too left leaning. They don’t mention his drinking. Hoover mentions it. Hey, if I were running an intelligence agency
I certainly wouldn’t pick Ernest Hemingway on account of the drinking. What about the Soviets? I don’t have the soviet staffing paper saying
here’s our policy on agents who drink. But I think you’d find among the Soviets,
a much greater tolerance for just incredible amounts of drinking. [Laughter]
And Hemingway could also be very disciplined. So yes, there was a drinking side. I think a medical doctor would say he was
an alcoholic. But he was also very disciplined. And remained a disciplined writer until the
end of his life. They say he wanted to be a success if — you
want to be a successful writer, the first thing you have to do is sit in the chair and
you have to have a routine. Hemingway did that pretty much until the end
of his life. He would bring that kind of discipline to
an intelligence relationship. A friend of mine who read the recruitment
chapter 5 in my book. Initially, I wasn’t show sure. Did he know, did he understand? And he read the raw material of what I wrote
and he said, he absolutely understood! He knew exactly what was on the table here! So, I think he had the discipline to have
an agent relationship with the Soviets. Last thing I would say is maybe the Soviets
— so you’re an intelligence agency, you have all these ops leads. You know you have 20 or 30 ops leads in your
New York file. You keep working them and maybe one pans out. Kind of like selling houses or cars or whatever. You ask 30 people and you sell two or three. So they might have been surprised when Hemingway
said yes, they were going to ask him. Sure, why not? And then he said yes. And then it’s kind of like, you see in the
soviet file a bit of well, what are we going to do now? [Laughter]
So they didn’t really have a specific tasking in mind for him initially. And they’re kind of playing catch up ball,
that’s kind of my reading of the file. They’re playing catch up ball from then on. Anyone else? You guys going to let me go? Anyway, wanted to say thank you very much
for hearing me out. [Applause]
>>There’s a book signing one level up in the bookstore. We’ll see you there in a couple minutes.

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