During the 1940s, The New Yorker built its reputation by publishing some of the best writers of the time, including George Orwell, W. H. Auden, Vladimir Nabokov, and John Hersey. One writer, however, remained elusive. After his awkward parody of Frank Harris’s lightly pornographic My Life and Loves in 1927, The New Yorker had published nothing by Ernest Hemingway for over twenty years. Harold Ross, its legendary editor, resolved to change that.

In August 1948, after pursuing Hemingway for the greater part of a decade, Ross dashed off a short note. “Is it true that you’re going to Europe, and if so would you want to do some pieces for us?” Ross was thrilled when Hemingway, just before sailing, responded by asking what Ross had in mind and how much he would pay. After Hemingway had...


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