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454 of 491 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still haunted by Hemingway
"For Whom the Bell Tolls" was the first Hemingway I ever read. I was a high school kid in the early 1970s, working on my campus newspaper, newly graduated from Jack London but not yet ready for Jack Kerouac.
To my young eyes, it was a good action story: Robert Jordan, the passionate American teacher joins a band of armed gypsies in the Spanish Civil...
Published on June 2, 2000 by Ron Franscell, Author of 'The ...

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars What War Is Really Like
With vivid, descriptive prose, Hemingway takes us into the mind of a soldier. Focused on duty and his mission, our main character encounters love among the carnage, but even that does not sway him from his duty. Though at times a bit long-winded, Hemingway brings the internal battle of war to the surface. The self-talk that goes on shows the conflict behind the rough...
Published on January 14, 2011 by GTO


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4.0 out of 5 stars Overall Good Book, October 5, 1998
By A Customer
The Book was well written. It provided me with many hours of entertainment.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A good insight into the Spanish mentality, June 15, 1998
By A Customer
The style of the book may not be as elegant as Paul Auster's and the love story may be unrealistic. This is beside the point. Hemingway gives an excellent description of the Spanish civil war as it is seen from a handful of individuals. Hemingway shows a profound understanding of the Spanish people and their mentality. Readers who primarily draw conclusions from the fact that the female protagonist's hair has been cut short (by the falange not the male protagonist) have probably read too many (Freudian) psychology books.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A good novel, April 28, 1998
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I happen to think Hemingway is one of the most overrated novelists of the 20th century, but this particular book is "a good read." Hemingway does deal with many subjects such as duty, brutalization, love, or loyalty, all the while telling a good, moving story. Not my vote for "the great American novel", but worth reading.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Real people in a real world, April 2, 1998
By A Customer
Hemingway's work never ceases to amaze me, in that he peoples a very real world with painfully real people, and all with a paucity of words that would cripple any other author. You can feel the burden, the frustration, the hope and the cynicism of each person in the first few words they speak. The Spanish Civil War is simply a pressure cooker that brings out the inner being that truly defines the person, in all their fragile and sometimes irrational glory. An unmatchable masterpiece.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An incredible look at humanity, February 8, 1998
Hemmingway touched my heart as a reader in a way no author ever has. I cannot put down in words to describe the kind of masterpiece this novel is.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Like a dusty jacket in the corner hall. . ., April 4, 1997
By A Customer
this book reminds me again what is real. Hemingway really was a truth fanatic. He purged pretense and falsity so nearly completely in this book, I put it down and walk outside
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Falls Short of Greatness, November 7, 2004
Half of this book is a brilliant, visceral portrayal of war and the men and women who are swept up in it. It shows the different ways through which men confront their own mortality, and exposes the inherent dirtiness and corruption of war, and how this destroys hope and idealism.

While some right-wing critics of this novel accuse Hemingway of romanticizing Communism, anyone who actually reads the book can see that this is simply not the case. On several occasions, the novel's main character, Robert Jordan, a volunteer soldier in the International Brigades, flashes back to his time in Madrid. In these flashbacks, we see how Robert became disillusioned with Marxist doctrine after seeing the extent of Soviet control and corruption that was rampant in the city, and how the Soviets lied to the Spanish people. One of these flashbacks includes a thinly veiled reference to the Moscow show trials, when a Soviet journalist mentions the name of Zinoviev, an executed Bolshevik, to Robert. Hemingway also shows how Communist Party structure doomed the Republican effort through the character of Andre Marty, a paranoid, inept French Communist leader who, in his power and stupidity, assigned men to impossible missions.

It is shown that most of the left-wing Republican fighters were anti-Communist socialists who simply wanted to be free and to be governed fairly. Hemingway even manages to insert a criticism of American racism, when, after being told a story of how the guerilla group he has joined attacked a village and allowed the inhabitants to murder their right-wing neighbors, Robert recalls a childhood experience of seeing a black man lynched by a group of whites (this part of the story may have been inspired by Hemingway's friendship with the black poet Langston Hughes).

If this book was nothing more than the parts that I just described, I would have awarded it five stars.

However, roughly half of this book is the horribly unconvincing love story of Robert Jordan and Maria, a girl who the guerilla band saved from the Fascist forces. Maria is a flat, one-dimensional character whose only goal appears to be to submit to Robert's wishes and to pleasure him. She is weak-willed, and, for the most part, air-headed. These parts of the book drag terribly, and their only redeeming quality is Hemingway's beautiful, vivid descriptions of the mountains of Spain. For these failings, I am forced to say that this novel does not deserve five stars.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You cannot beat this!, February 21, 2004
By 
Robert Wynkoop (Washington State) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Having read two Hemmingway novels, I was not impressed. Frankly, I was surprised that I did not enjoy them. After growing up and hearing about the great Hemmingway, the man's man, I found his characters weak and whinny. Ready to give up, I gave him one more try and I am glad he did. This is a magnificent novel.
Set in the Spanish Civil War during the 1930s it tells the story of Robert Jordan, an American volunteer fighting against Franco and his fascist allies. This is first-rate story telling, it grabs the reader from the offset and pulls him into the story. Unlike other Hemmingway novels (i.e., The Son Also Rises), these are heroic characters that we deeply care about.
The imagery is magnificent. I can still see in my minds eye, the retreating Republicans, the panicked soldiers, the horses out of control and the cartridge casings spilled in the road way. If you are unfamiliar with Hemmingway, read this book first. All the others will pale in comparison.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Oft tedious tome---, May 5, 2003
This review is from: For Whom the Bell Tolls (Scribner Classics) (Hardcover)
I love almost all of Hemingway's novels, but this one was a daunting effort. Line by line, or a paragraph at a time, the writing is Hemingway at his best. Yet, inexplicably, I found that as one chapter segued interminably to the next, the story and style became muddled and could not sustain my interest. There is much, however, that is worth the time...themes of monogamous love, war/conscience, life/death. The heart wrenching finale illustrates the notorious he-man's mastery to convey softer, "feminine" sensitivity. Definitely not the one to kick off a reader's Hemingway exposure.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly an American classic!, August 1, 2001
By 
Hilde Bygdevoll (Stavanger, Norway) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: For Whom the Bell Tolls (Scribner Classics) (Hardcover)
I only started reading Hemingway last year, yet he's become one of my very favourite authors. Of course I am humble enough to I ask myself "What more is there to say about "For Whom the Bell Tolls" that the reviewers and others haven't said already?" Yet here I am... writing another review about Hemingway's masterpiece...
"For Whom the Bell Tolls" is the tale of two of man's most cherished and hated traditions: Love and War. We enter the story somewhere in Spain, in 1937, under the Spanish Civil War. We follow Robert Jordan -the American (teacher, now a demolition expert), and a group of guerrilla loyalists; Pablo leader of the group, his woman Pilar and the girl Maria (a prisoner rescued by Pablo).
We follow the group, and especially Robert's, effort, fighting for the Republic against the Fascists. The entire novel only covers a span of three days, so we truly get a sense of the time passing. While the story develops we recognise that the real leader of the group is not Pablo, but his woman, Pilar. We watch Robert develop an intense love for the girl Maria and reading the part where Robert and Maria are taking farewell brought tears to my eyes...
It is not possible to not genuinely care for each individual in the story, because the characters are few, and they are all very well developed. In fact, they must be the most complete characters that I've found in any novel that I've read. They say that good novelists write books with strong main characters. Great ones make even the minor characters memorable. And so it is with "For Whom the Bell Tolls", the old man Anselmo is as well developed as Robert Jordan or Pilar.
From beginning to end, "For Whom the Bell Tolls" held my attention. This novel shows Hemingway's masterful command of the English language, and I think this novel is one of the best anti-war novels of the 20th century. "For Whom the Bell Tolls" most definitely deserves its "true classic"-label.
I couldn't recommend it more highly!
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For Whom the Bell Tolls (Scribner Classics)
For Whom the Bell Tolls (Scribner Classics) by Ernest Hemingway (Hardcover - June 10, 1996)
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