Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Hemingway guns give insight into Papa

Guns reveal stories about Hemingway’s life

Express Staff Writer

“Hemingway’s Guns: The Sporting Arms of Ernest Hemingway” by Silvio Calabi, Steve Helsley and Roger Sanger. Published by A Shooting Sportsman Book. 180 pp $40.

Ernest Hemingway continues to endure as one of America's most admired writers, a celebrity and an avid hunter. Hemingway, an alpha male, was a hunter and conservationist. Shooting was one of his biggest passions. Hemingway owned and used a variety of guns throughout his life, including a .22-caliber Colt Woodsman pistol, .577 Nitro Express big-game rifle, a Winchester Model 12 pump shotgun and a Thompson submachine gun.

The stories of Hemingway's guns, the people with whom he enjoyed hunting and the gun he used to take his life are collected in a new book, "Hemingway's Guns: The Sporting Arms of Ernest Hemingway" by Silvio Calabi, Steve Helsley and Roger Sanger.

"The research for the book led us to discover that Hemingway gave away many guns," said co-author and part-time Ketchum resident Roger Sanger. "When Hemingway died, his wife, Mary, got rid of his guns and sent them to Abercrombie & Fitch, who were a gun broker."

Sanger said the book took two and a half years to compile, with many calls and lots of online research. An instrumental person in finding information was Bud Purdy, who hunted with Hemingway in Idaho.

< "I talked to Bud at his ranch," Sanger said. "He said Papa had guns made in Spain. He would often give these guns away."

The book should find an audience with gun collectors, especially those interested in "blood history."

"People want to know about the guns that killed Al Capone or John Dillinger," Sanger said. "The gun that killed Hemingway was sliced into pieces and is buried under Adam West's house."

He said the book is more than a history of Hemingway guns, it's also a history of people and photos collected from all over.

"There are stories about Hemingway shooting magpies off a deck at Silver Creek and rabbit hunts on farms around Idaho when it was legal to do so," Sanger said. "Hemingway would always ask permission to hunt. He would perform random acts of kindness, giving farmers food or fixing their autos."

Sanger said he didn't think Hemingway owned many possessions and was not a hoarder, but guns were important to him.

"The stigma of a gun should not keep people from reading the book," Sanger said. "There are a lot of photos collected in the book because Hemingway was a major celebrity of his time."

The book is available for $40 at Silver Creek Outfitters and Iconoclast Books in Ketchum and online.

Sabina Dana Plasse:

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