True at First Light

  • by Ernest Hemingway
  • Narrated by Brian Dennehy
  • 10 hrs and 17 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Both revealing self-portrait and dramatic fictional chronicle of his final African safari, Ernest Hemingway's last unpublished work was written when he returned from Kenya in 1953. Edited by his son Patrick, who accompanied his father on the safari, True at First Light offers rare insights into the legendary American writer. A blend of autobiography and fiction, the book opens on the day his close friend, Pop, a celebrated hunter, leaves Ernest in charge of the safari camp and news arrives of a potential attack from a hostile tribe. Drama continues to build as his wife, Mary, pursues the great black-maned lion that has become her obsession. Spicing his depictions of human longings with sharp humor, Hemingway captures the excitement of big-game hunting and the unparalleled beauty of the scenery: the green plains covered with gray mist, zebra and gazelle traversing the horizon, cool dark nights broken by the sounds of the hyena's cry.

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What the Critics Say

"Twentieth-century American literature could not end on a brighter note than the publication of this book." (Library Journal)
"Amusing, moving, and of treasurable importance to an understanding of this massive, however flawed, genius of our literature." (Kirkus Reviews) "A major literary event. In addition to the book's intrinsic pleasures, it provides a new window into the tantalizing, unsettling, oceanic world of his experimental, unfinished late work." (Newsweek)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Sad last book

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

Maybe if Hemingway had written it when he was younger, before booze and adulation had addled his brain. Or perhaps if he had time to edit and rewrite it himself.


How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

I would never presume to 'change' Hemingway.


What about Brian Dennehy’s performance did you like?

Mellow, precise, deep voice. As you would imagine Hemingway to speak.


What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Poor old Papa's reputation would have done better without the publication of this book. When you take yourself this seriously, it is really hard to be humerous. Hem's 'kitten talk' with Miss Mary (also full of herself) is pathetic. His 'snappy repartie' with GC is devoid of wit. The hunting scenes are good but he has done them many times before and they have a recycled feel. The best of the book comes when he reads a critical letter and a newspaper clipping from one of his readers and shortly afterwards reflects on an old flame who became rich. The critic hit the nail on the head better than I can: Hemingway's subsequent tirade, I suspect, comes from the heart and therefore has at least some validity.
For those grieving that Ernest's death robbed us of some great unwritten literature, do not (don't?) worry: his best had long passed, and he knew it. Hemingway is better read than listened to, but Dennehy does the best possible job with the material. I like him as an actor and I shall now search him out as a narrator.


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- JBB32

Not good for audible

This provided way more in written form. The story itself is decent, but just does not make for a good audible.
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- Tamrya Nash

Book Details

  • Release Date: 01-22-2007
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio