James McGrath Morris


The Ambulance Drivers:
Hemingway, Dos Passos, and a Friendship Made and Lost in War

Rich in evocative detail--from Paris cafŽs to Austrian chateaus, from the streets of Pamplona to the waters of Key West--The Ambulance Drivers tells the story of two aspiring writers, Ernest Hemingway and John Dos Passos, who met in World War I and forged a twenty-year friendship that produced some of America's greatest novels, giving voice to a generation shaken by war.

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 nasty public fight, fueled by money, jealousy, and lust. This is not only a biography of the turbulent friendship between two of the century's greatest writers but also an illustration of how war inspires and destroys, unites and divides.


Prepublication praise for The Ambulance Drivers

“Intimate, vivid, and humane, The Ambulance Drivers propels readers through the intersecting lives of two of our greatest writers. Never have Ernest Hemingway and John Dos Passos seemed so real or so important as in James McGrath Morris's account of their passage through the Great War and rise of fascism.”
—T.J. Stiles, author of the Pulitzer-winning Custer's Trials: A life on the Frontier of a New America

The Ambulance Drivers is of the best books on Ernest Hemingway I've ever read.· It is one of those rare and gratifying books that seamlessly drops gems of insight on history, art, and politics into a taut and suspenseful story of one of the great literary friendships of the twentieth century.· A great book for anyone with a passion for Hemingway and his world.”
—Debby Applegate, Pulitzer Prize winner for The Most Famous Man in America: The Biography of Henry Ward Beecher

“Morris writes like an expressionist painter, evoking the essence of Hemingway’s and Dos Passos’s hard-drinking writing life in Paris, Madrid and Key West. The Ambulance Drivers is a deft and classy literary adventure, infused with wine, beautiful women and genuine pathos.”
—Kai Bird is a Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer and Executive Director of the Leon Levy Center for Biography at the CUNY Graduate Center in New York City

In his ingenious dual narrative, The Ambulance Drivers, James McGrath Morris gives us the lives of modernist greats John Dos Passos and Ernest Hemingway in high contrast, rendering sharp, revelatory portraits of two literary icons we thought we already knew. Writing with deep knowledge and sympathy, Morris has created something rare and fresh: a biography of a friendship. 
Megan Marshall, Pulitzer Prize winning author of Margaret Fuller and Elizabeth Bishop: A Miracle for Breakfast

“I can hardly find superlatives strong enough to describe my fascination in reading The Ambulance Drivers by James McGrath Morris . . . Morris’s evocative writing and finely tuned research brings alive the richness of the past—the thronging cafes of Paris, the mortared trenches of Italy, the bullfights of Pamplona, the sun-bleached houses of Key West—as well as the complex personalities of these two great American writers. A tragic story, beautifully written and compulsively readable.”
—Douglas Preston, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Lost City of the Monkey God

“Dos Passos and Hemingway were not only two of our greatest writers; their long, strange bromance was one of the most interesting and tempestuous relationships in American letters. Here is a story of war, love, and politics writ large, a story of two literary lions trapped in a double-helix relationship more powerful than either will admit. In this intricately braided dual biography, Morris shows us how the two novelists needed each other, even as they differed—often drastically so—in the way they negotiated the gravitational forces of their times.”
—Hampton Sides bestselling author of In the Kingdom of Ice, Ghost Soldiers, and other books.

“While writing my debut novel First Blood, I was a graduate student at Penn State, specializing in modern American literature. I had traveled to Penn State to study with famed Hemingway critic Philip Young, wrote my Master’s thesis on Hemingway’s style,  and became Young’s graduate assistant while he was helping Hemingway’s widow catalogue the many boxes of papers that the novelist left behind. For several years, I lived and breathed Hemingway. James McGrath Morris has also lived and breathed not only Hemingway but also Hemingway’s friend, the distinguished novelist, John Dos Passos. The Ambulance Drivers is palpably vivid in describing that friendship, which until now has not been investigated in such brilliant detail. This is an exciting, revealing, important book that evokes a fascinating era. It shows us Hemingway in a new perspective and, equally important, gives Dos Passos the major attention that he indisputably deserves but for several decades has not received.”
David Morrell, New York Times bestselling author of Murder as a Fine Art and John Barth: An Introduction. 

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