Hotel Florida: Truth, Love, and Death in the Spanish Civil War
Throw a love story into a war zone, and you’ll likely have a riveting tale. Toss in Ernest Hemingway and base it all on real events, and you’ll have a mesmerizing nonfiction read. There are, in fact, three couples with romantic ties and reasons for becoming involved in the political struggles of 1936 Madrid, as told by Vaill in Hotel Florida. An intellectually, and martially, disillusioned Hemingway who becomes fascinated with young journalist Martha Gellhorn; two talented photographers, Robert Capa and Gerda Taro; Arturo Barea, Madrid’s foreign press officer, and his Austrian deputy Ilsa Kulcsar. All six individuals search for the truth in these troubling time, and attempt to fashion a life for themselves even when telling the truth may carry with it great risk. What Vaill does best of all is to weave the intimate stories of real people within the fibers of cold, hard facts as we know them. The result is a stark and realistic portrait of what it must have been like to become entangled in the destiny of a country in violent transition.