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The 5 Most Badass Facts About Ernest Hemingway

And you thought you were tough.

The guy might have had some character flaws, but there's no denying that Hemingway was a certified badass. So take some notes from one of America’s most ass-kicking heroes.


He didn't take shit from anyone. Ever.

Hemingway ran into fellow author Max Eastman in their publisher's office one day in 1937. Unfortunately for Eastman, Hemingway saw that one of Eastman's new essays contained the line, "Come out from behind that false hair on your chest, Ernest. We all know you."

Not one to have his masculinity questioned, Hemingway challenged Eastman to take his shirt off and see who had more chest hair (no surprise: Hemingway did.) Then Hemingway proceeded to hit Eastman in the face with his own book.

He agreed to an interview with the New York Times to explain the encounter, then proceeded to show up with a black eye and covered in scars (all from unrelated fights), Hemingway said:

"If Mr. Eastman takes his prowess seriously – if he has not, as it seems, gone in for fiction – then let him waive all medical rights and legal claims to damages, and I'll put up $1,000 for any charity he favors or for himself. Then we'll go into a room and he can read his book to me – the part of his book about me. Well, the best man unlocks the door."

His offer was (wisely) left unaccepted.


He drove around the front lines of WWI.

As an ambulance driver in Milan during WWI, Hemingway was hit by fragments of an Austrian mortar shell. And machine gun fire. At the same time. Neither of which stopped him from getting his fellow soldiers to safety and out of the line of fire, which earned him the Italian Silver Medal of Military Valor, despite not even being Italian.


He has an odd definition of the word "vacation."

Most people hear stories of Teddy Roosevelt's pure, unadulterated sense of adventure, like when he went on safari in Africa to hunt big game, and are understandably impressed. Hemingway heard them and said, "Challenge accepted."

Despite being hospitalized for part of his trip from a severe illness, Hemingway expertly tracked and hunted just about every monstrous animal that Africa had to offer and returned stateside with an overabundance of trophies. The ethics are, admittedly, more than a little blurry — Hemingway was pretty ruthless in his hunting sprees — but the fact that the guy took down animals the size of small houses is impressive nonetheless.


He wasn't one to shy away from combat.

Even after nearly getting killed in WWI, Hemingway decided he'd head back to the front lines as a war correspondent in both World War II and the Spanish Civil War. And as if writing from the battlefields wasn't enough, he corralled a group of French resistance members into a militia in '44, which he helped lead in the liberation of Paris.


He was damn near indestructible.

While sightseeing in Africa, Hemingway's plane hit a utility pole and crash landed, leaving him with a not insignificant head wound.

He shrugged it off, then boarded another plane the next day, which exploded at take-off, causing burns and another concussion.

Then he brushed the dirt off his shoulders and casually walked over to a local hospital to recover, much to the surprise of reporters who had already published his obituary. Oh, and just a couple months later, he went on a fishing expedition and got caught in a bushfire that gave him second degree burns just about everywhere.

The sum total of his injuries? Two cracked discs, kidney and liver rupture, a dislocated shoulder, and a broken skull. And he barely slowed down. Your move, death.

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