Academic journal article American Studies

Hemingway, the Red Cross, and the Great War

Academic journal article American Studies

Hemingway, the Red Cross, and the Great War

Article excerpt

HEMINGWAY, THE RED CROSS, AND THE GREAT WAR. By Steven Florczyk. Kent, OH: Kent State University Press. 2014.

This exhaustively researched monograph is clearly written, cogently organized, and sensibly interdisciplinary in its methods. It will garner the interest of scholars interested in America's role in the Great War as well as Hemingway specialists. Readers with a pointed interest in the literary development of modern letters or those looking for new critical approaches to modern American fiction are likely to find the book of less use for their particular purposes. Professor Florczyk has undertaken an enormous labor of scholarship, producing a monograph with forty-two pages of notes (a number of which attain to the proverbial mini-essays that one finds in the work of specialists) and nine pages of bibliography. He has immersed himself in primary material, especially the archives of ambulance drivers, canteen workers, and Red Cross functionaries, and he also demonstrates a command of pertinent secondary works. If one were to take Hemingway out of the picture, one would still be left with a thoroughly informative book on the American Red Cross during the First World War. One primary source deserves particular mention in this regard: the author has made good use of the apparently extensive private papers of Robert Bates, Red Cross volunteer. Bates's notations provide a good deal of background information, local color, and detail from which much can be inferred about the typical activities, attitudes, and practices of ambulance drivers in World War I, including, of course, Hemingway himself.

As for the biographical dimension of the study, most of the new findings are contained in the first part of the book, which also serves to verify heretofore uncertain biographical details and to correct or refine contested and ambiguous matters that bear directly on Hemingway's life, but which are seldom decisive in the criticism of his fiction. …

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