From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Celebrated American war reporter Martha Gellhorn (1908–1998) was a prolific letter-writer, sharing with a circle of cherished intellectual friends her declarations against war and poverty; her frustrations in an almost exclusively male profession; her hopes for success as a novelist; and disappointments in love. Gellhorn's biographer organizes correspondence from 1930 to 1996, interspersing brief commentaries that place it in the context of Gellhorn's nonstop global assignments and various international domiciles. Gellhorn's tone is typically warm, forthright and full of spirited analysis. More guarded are letters to her former second husband, Ernest Hemingway, and letters to her adopted son, Sandy, with whom she had a troubled relationship. With Eleanor Roosevelt, a lifelong friend, she shared a passionate liberal outlook; letters to Leonard Bernstein attempt to convey her appreciation of his art. While Gellhorn's unswerving energy and work ethic impress, her love of fierce debate, hard drinking, male company and sunbathing, and her capacity to lose her head in romance render her thoroughly human. Particularly moving is Gellhorn's troubled passage into old age and isolation in the African bush, before being rediscovered as a grande dame of journalism by a young London literary crowd, in whose company she delighted. Gellhorn's letters sparkle to the very last. (Aug. 1)
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War correspondent, free spirit, and writer of conscience Martha Gellhorn was beginning to fade into obscurity when Caroline Moorehead reversed the process with her galvanizing biography, Gellhorn (2003). Moorehead now continues her mission to secure Gellhorn her well-deserved place in the pantheon of never-to-be-forgotten writers in this compelling, enjoyable assemblage of letters. Gellhorn is at her most outspoken, fluent, hilarious, charming, and insightful in her energetic correspondence, writing about matters personal and political to her mother, Eleanor Roosevelt, H. G. Wells, Leonard Bernstein, Ernest Hemingway (until their ugly divorce), and many others. She wrote letters as warm-ups for writing her articles, essays, and fiction, and to cool down after unnerving adventures covering World War II, hurtful battles in the war between the sexes, and general agitation over the state of the world. Gellhorn's peripatetic life was unusual and dramatic, and her dispatches are vital and exciting, empathic and gutsy, and brimming with choice metaphors, stinging social commentary, and sharp analysis. Donna Seaman
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