Ernest Hemingway Targeted by the FBI

 Ernest Hemingway: Targeted by the FBI

Friend reveals regret for dismissing writer’s fear that he was being targeted by J Edgar Hoover


… his life has suggested another contributing factor, previously dismissed as a paranoid delusion of the Nobel prize-winning writer. It is that Hemingway was aware of his long surveillance by J Edgar Hoover’s FBI, who were suspicious of his links with Cuba, and that this may have helped push him to the brink.

Writing in the New York Times on the 50th anniversary of Hemingway’s death, AE Hotchner, author of Papa Hemingway and Hemingway and His World, said he believed that the FBI’s surveillance “substantially contributed to his anguish and his suicide”, adding that he had “regretfully misjudged” his friend’s fear of the organisation.

Quoting Hemingway:

The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong in the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.

Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms, 1929 ~ US author & journalist (1899 – 1961)

…It’s the worst hell. The goddamndest hell. They’ve bugged everything. That’s why we’re using Duke’s car. Mine’s bugged. Everything’s bugged. Can’t use the phone. Mail intercepted.’

 says Hemingway became more agitated on the trip, demanding they stop and watch two men working in a bank as he was convinced they were rifling through his accounts by order of the FBI. The worried author also recalls how Hemingway, during the same visit, identified two strangers as FBI agents who were following him.

After the two incidents Hemingway was admitted into hospital, where he was given electric shock therapy and unsuccessfully attempted to commit suicide on several occasions. It was this behaviour that led to any dismissing his claims that he was an FBI target as fanciful and delusional and his claims were still unproven when he died in 1961.

But in the 1980s, the author’s complaints were found to be justified, when the agents released their file on him following a Freedom of Information request. The FBI were intensely interested in him and had made notes about his attempts to launch an anti-fascist spy network and reported to then FBI President J Edgar Hoover that the author was physically and mentally ill…”

(Did FBI surveillance push Ernest Hemingway to the brink of suicide?)

The revelation that Hemingway had been targeted for surveillance by the government intelligence unit headed by J. Edgar Hoover, is consistent with a well-documented history of American citizens held under suspicion by the FBI or the scores of other less well-known spy agencies within the government, military, and civilian sectors.[2]

Other Resources:

Suicide or Political Persecution? The Mysterious Deaths of Ernest Hemmingway …



6 thoughts on “Ernest Hemingway Targeted by the FBI

  1. Pingback: Men At War, ed. Ernest Hemingway (Avon G1006 – 1952) | Vintage (and not so vintage) Paperbacks

  2. The term targeted individual, is widely used and recognised and, as such is a useful reference term, however many who formerly refered to themselves as TIs are now rejecting the term. In my blog on Myspace I explain that there is really no such thing as a targeted individual. We are all targeted. Some of us know it. Others don´t.

  3. Pingback: Hemingway In His Own Words | The Evolving Dad

  4. Pingback: J Edgar Hoover and Hollywood | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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