When asked, in the dog days of the 2008 presidential campaign, to reveal his favorite literary hero, John McCain named Robert Jordan, the silent and sinewy protagonist of Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls. Few eyebrows were raised: the Navy pilot of Vietnam and the dynamiter of the Spanish Civil War were easy enough to conflate. And to readers and voters alike, both seemed like anachronisms.

What, after all, has Hemingway to teach us on the cusp of 2014? Young men today, left and right seem to agree, are mostly pajama-clad creatures; they have less in common with Papa and more with Nathaniel P., the sad cad of Brooklyn. Why, then, Hemingway?

The answer—or an answer, as definitive declarations are as antiquated these days as the #3 Royal Corona on which Hemingway typed his masterworks—comes in the form of an empathic, humorous, and illuminating little book from Clancy Sigal, himself a literary lion and an ambassador from an era in which having lived life was a prerequisite to feeling entitled to write about it.

Read the full review at Tablet.

Verified by MonsterInsights