Hemingway and Ho Chi Minh in Paris

Fortress. May 2020. 350p. ISBN 9781506455709. $28.99. LIT
Crowe (English, Augustana Coll., IL) is quick to point out that there is no record of novelist Ernest Hemingway (1899–1961) and Vietnamese revolutionary Ho Chi Minh (1890–1969) ever having met. This book is not about their influence on each other but about how their time in Paris during the 1920s helped shape their values. Crowe draws a number of parallels between his subjects, including their Victorian upbringing, their early religious training, their work as journalists, and their reaction to violence—both observed and directly experienced. He argues that the “ferment of arts and ideas” in Paris, particularly Dada and surrealism, influenced their works, and that their embrace of modernism signaled a resistance to colonialism and the politics that led to World War I. Although the lives of the writer and former prime minister are chronicled, for the most part, in separate chapters, Crowe continues to highlight similarities, ranging from their multiple marriages to their attraction to Switzerland. While Crowe’s research is well documented, he sometimes relies on supposition, introduced by words such as must have, probably, seems to. Generally credible, these suppositions are reasonable given the task Crow has set himself.
VERDICT An interesting look at how two remarkable men, who came of age in Paris during the 1920s, developed a sympathy for the common man and a hatred of injustice. Recommended for general readers.
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