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About the book
  • Published: 12 January 2012
  • ISBN: 9781446484104
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 720

Hemingway's Boat

Everything He Loved in Life, and Lost, 1934-1961

This is a literary tour de force, an invaluable, unforgettable and original portrait of Ernest Hemingway and his beloved boat, Pilar.


'She'd been intimately his, and he hers, for twenty-seven years - which were his final twenty-seven years. She'd lasted through three wives, the Nobel Prize, and all his ruin. He'd owned her, fished her, worked her and rode her, from the waters of Key West to the Bahamas to the Dry Tortugas to the north coast and archipelagos of Cuba.'

Even in his most accomplished period, Hemingway carried within him the seeds of his tragic decline and throughout this period he had one constant - his beloved boat, Pilar. The boat represented and witnessed everything he loved in life - virility, deep-sea fishing, access to his beloved ocean, freedom, women and booze and the formative years of his children.

Paul Hendrickson focuses on the period from 1934 to 1961, from the pinnacle of Hemingway's fame to his suicide. He has delved into the life of Hemingway and done the seemingly impossible: present him to us in a whole new light.

  • Pub date: 12 January 2012
  • ISBN: 9781446484104
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 720

About the Author

Paul Hendrickson

Paul Hendrickson is the prize-winning author of Seminary; Looking for the Light; The Living and the Dead and Sons of Mississippi. He currently teaches non-fiction writing at the University of Pennsylvania and for two decades before that he was a staff writer at the Washington Post.

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Praise for Hemingway's Boat

“Rich, magisterial... Unforgettable”

Ed Caesar, Sunday Times

“This is the best, most understanding portrait of Hemingway yet written”

Allan Massie, Telegraph

“To use Hemingway's favourite term of praise, it is not just enthralling, it is 'fine'”

Michael Prodger, Financial Times

“Masterly... Heartbreaking... Brilliant”

New York Times

“Bewitchingly beautiful... Hendrickson is a miraculously lovely writer. He twists and turns through time, moving sensitively between the books and life.”

Olivia Laing, Observer

“Hemingway's Boat had me hooked from beginning to end... An exceptionally lively biography, that offers a vivid new picture of Hemingway”

Ian Thomson, Sunday Telegraph

“A beautifully written and loving understanding of a very troubled genius”

Jeffery Taylor, Sunday Express

“The author, an accomplished storyteller, interprets myriad tiny details of Ernest Hemingway's life, and through them says something new about a writer everyone thinks they know.”

The Economist, Books of the Year

“I read [Hemingway's Boat] without a pause...an eye-opener of a book, full of unexpected riches, fascinating digressions... It just may be the best book I've read this year, and certainnly the best book I've read about an American writer in a long, long time”

Michael Korda, Newsweek, Favorite Books of the Year

“Paul Hendrickson is the most innovative and creative nonfiction writer I know. Just read Hemingway's Boat and you'll see what I mean. He has an almost saintly compassion for both the greatness and the foibles of Hemingway. A landmark publishing event.”

Professor Douglas G. Brinkley, author of The Great Deluge

“Hendrickson offers a moving, highly evocative account of Hemingway's turbulent later years, when he lost the favor of critics, the love of wives and friends and, ultimately, his ability to write. This beautifully written, nuanced meditation deserves a wide audience.”

Kirkus (Starred review)

“An admirably absorbing, important, and moving interpretation of Hemingway's ambitions, passions, and tragedies during the last 27 years of his life. Hendrickson offers fascinating details and sheds new light on Hemingway's kinder, more generous side.”

Publishers' Weekly

“Hendrickson has at times an almost slangy yet intoxicatingly lyrical style in this scrupulously researched book. And, like most of the most entertaining biographies of recent years, he works in his own literary quest and detective work. There are dizzying passages of travel writing about Miami, Key West and Havana - places much visited by writers - that here feel completely fresh.”

Olivia Cole

“Paul Hendrickson duly set about getting to the core of Hemingway's relationship with Pilar. And how! His research is flat-out phenomenal... It works.This is, as promised, a book that finds much in Hemingway that has been generally overlooked.”

Sam Leith, Spectator

“Hemingway's Boat is a fair consideration of the most difficult years in Hemingway's life and written with sympathetic interest”


“Hendrickson is a large-hearted but honest judge... His luminous and merciful book goes a long way towards completing our picture of a tortured man...remarkable book”

Theo Dorgan, Irish Independent

“Paul Hendrickson has another theme more interesting than Hemmingway's boat: the writers deadly effect on his sons”

Peter Lewis, Daily Mail

“This is a measured and thoughtful, sometimes lyrical book that adds considerably to the Papa story”

Ronan Farren, Irish Independent

“Hendrickson has a tremendous feel for Hemingway, as both writer and man; his own writing is vivid and personal... What he says about Hemingway is usually dead on target”

Sarah Churchwell, Guardian

“Hemingway's Boat... turns a seemingly trivial search for an old boat up on cinder blocks in a Havana yard and a potentially mawkish concentration on the latter end of a life into a powerful meditation on what made Hemingway tick and what made him great. Though one needs other books for the first 35 years of the life, it supersedes them all.”

Brian Morton, Sunday Herald

“Hendrickson has a fluent, engaging tone...he brings us closer to understanding Hemingway as a man who loved and lost - as opposed to the archtypal misogynist bully he is widely regarded as”

Big Issue in the North

“His life was spectacular, and, somehow, went spectacularly wrong. Hendrickson tells the story of the man and the boat, and the fish, and the women, and the writing. And then the moment when, at the age of 61, Hemingway woke up early one morning and shot himself. In the head. On purpose. Some story. Very well told”

William Leith, Evening Standard

“Rich, magisterial account...Other books on Hemingway have tended to focus on his post-1930s literary decline and his machismo. The portrait that emerges from these pages is altogether more human”

Ed Caesar, Sunday Times

“He has a tremendous feel for Hemingway, as both writer and man”

Sarah Churchwell, Guardian

“This is a portrait of the author which is likely to leave one feeling more warmly disposed towards him”


“More a portrait than a biography, this book is a dazzling late example of "New Journalism"...the result is touching, revelatory and utterly absorbing”



The Lady

“While much of Hemingway’s life may have been hellish, Hendrickson’s writing is a delight. A fine work”

Fachtna Kelly, Sunday Business Post

“Very well told”

William Leith, Scotsman

“An album of fascinating snapshots of Hemingway”

Simon Shaw, Mail on Sunday

“Paul Hendrickson writes with a great deal of passion…”


“A terrific and fresh approach to the man”

Daniel Woodrell, Financial Times

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