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First things first: readers coming to To Have and Have Not after seeing the Bogart/Bacall film should be forewarned that about the only thing the two have in common is the title. The movie concerns a brave fishing-boat captain in World War II-era Martinique who aids the French Resistance, battles the Nazis, and gets the girl in the end. The novel concerns a broke fishing-boat captain who agrees to carry contraband between Cuba and Florida in order to feed his wife and daughters. Of the two, the novel is by far the darker, more complex work.
The first time we meet Harry Morgan, he is sitting in a Havana bar watching a gun battle raging out in the street. After seeing a Cuban get his head blown off with a Luger, Morgan reacts with typical Hemingway understatement: "I took a quick one out of the first bottle I saw open and I couldn't tell you yet what it was. The whole thing made me feel pretty bad." Still feeling bad, Harry heads out in his boat on a charter fishing expedition for which he is later stiffed by the client. With not even enough money to fill his gas tanks, he is forced to agree to smuggle some illegal Chinese for the mysterious Mr. Sing. From there it's just a small step to carrying liquor--a disastrous run that ends when Harry loses an arm and his boat. Once Harry gets mixed up in the brewing Cuban revolution, however, even those losses seem small compared to what's at stake now: his very life.
Hemingway tells most of this story in the third person, but, significantly, he brackets the whole with a section at the beginning told from Harry's perspective and a short, heart-wrenching chapter at the end narrated by his wife, Marie. In between there is adventure, danger, betrayal, and death, but this novel begins and ends with the tough and tender portrait of a man who plays the cards that are dealt him with courage and dignity, long after hope is gone. --Alix Wilber --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
"Absorbing and moving. It opens with a fusillade of bullets, reaches its climax with another, and sustains a high pitch of excitement throughout" Times Literary Supplement "Its tragic scenes are rendered with an economy of words and a power that might well be the despair of a lesser writer" Scotsman "This active, passionate life on the verge of the tropics is perfect material for the Hemingway style, and the reader carries away from the book a sense of freshness and exhilaration; trade winds, southern cities and warm seas all admirably described by the instrument of precision with which he writes" New Statesman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Editorial Reviews
This is a story about Harry, he has a fishing vessel and takes people out charting fishing for Marlins. Read morePublished 5 days ago by J. Warren Benton
If you already like Hemmingway you will like it. Not his best, but certainly readable.Published 21 days ago by erick nordstrom
I am a fan of Hemingway but this novel was not what I consider one of his best. Had three different stories and not much substance.Published 28 days ago by RON P.
Classic Hemingway. Spare, incisive, complex. He makes Cuba and Key West dark and ominous and irresistible. Perfect for Humphrey Bogart.Published 28 days ago by Luisita Torregrosa
Supposedly Hemingway's worst, it's my favorite. Maybe that's just my love affair with the Florida Keys at work, but for me the narrative continues to resonate long after the last... Read morePublished 1 month ago by gsdickes
This is never a feel good story, and a far cry from the Bogart movie version. You might not even like Harry Morgan. Read morePublished 1 month ago by W. Pearce
Ehh there are parts of this book that I loved but a lot more that I didn't. It felt like there were a ton of unneeded characters and Hemingway must have been pretty tanked when he... Read morePublished 1 month ago by A. Baratz
People are complex and this novel, through an entertaining plot, demonstrates both noble and shameful acts of rich and poor alike. Read morePublished 2 months ago by John W.
This novel is an outstanding achievement and its unique qualities may not fit every reader’s taste. The novel is about an anti-hero, a man of courage and prowess, a murderer and... Read morePublished 2 months ago by C. Collins