The Ambulance Drivers by James McGrath Morris
Hemingway, Dos Passos, and a Friendship Made and Lost in War

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The Ambulance Drivers is a lively and engaging biography that takes a fresh look at the life of Dos Passos, but fails to shed any new light into Hemingway, whose life has already been well documented.
-NY Journal of Books

Synopsis

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.
 

About James McGrath Morris

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James McGrath Morris is the author of The Rose Man of Sing Sing, selected as a Washington Post Best Book of 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 other newspapers and magazines.
 
Published March 28, 2017 by Da Capo Press. 336 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, War. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for The Ambulance Drivers
All: 2 | Positive: 0 | Negative: 2

NY Journal of Books

Below average
Reviewed by Michael Thomas Barry on Mar 29 2017

The Ambulance Drivers is a lively and engaging biography that takes a fresh look at the life of Dos Passos, but fails to shed any new light into Hemingway, whose life has already been well documented.

Read Full Review of The Ambulance Drivers: Heming... | See more reviews from NY Journal of Books

The Economist

Below average
on Apr 22 2017

If “The Ambulance Drivers” is as readable as a novel, there is also the occasional slip. Mr Morris alludes to things without explaining them.

Read Full Review of The Ambulance Drivers: Heming... | See more reviews from The Economist

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