Charles Sweeny, the Man Who Inspired Hemingway


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About the Book

Charles Sweeny (1882–1963) was the heir to a fortune. Renouncing a life of comfort, he became a warrior for causes he believed in. Twice kicked out of West Point, he fought in revolts against three Latin American dictators. He was a decorated officer in the French Foreign Legion and in the U.S. Army during World War I, a brigadier general in the Polish-Soviet War and a military advisor in the Greco-Turkish War. He led a flying squadron in Morocco’s Rif War, advised Loyalists in the Spanish Civil War and spied for French intelligence during World War II. Before America entered the war, he dodged FBI agents and U.S. neutrality laws to recruit American pilots to fight the Nazis and became a group captain in the R.A.F.’s Eagle Squadron. After Pearl Harbor, he worked with “Wild Bill” Donovan to devise guerrilla campaigns in North Africa and Eastern Europe. This richly detailed biography draws on Sweeny’s personal papers, historical documents and photographs to chronicle the fascinating life of America’s most celebrated soldier of fortune—a lifelong friend of Ernest Hemingway and a model for his fictional heroes.

About the Author(s)

Charley Roberts is a journalist and military historian. He has been an investigative reporter and state capital correspondent for the Orange County Register and Washington bureau chief and executive editor of the Los Angeles Daily Journal. He lives in Roseville, California.

Charles P. Hess is a business executive and historian and has published several books on historical characters in Utah. He lives in Taylorsville, Utah.

Bibliographic Details

Charley Roberts and Charles P. Hess
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 288
Bibliographic Info: 27 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2017
pISBN: 978-1-4766-6994-6
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2884-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vi
Preface 1
Introduction: Heroes, Role Models and Legends 5
1. Family Influences 19
2. His Early Years 37
3. West Point Cadet 43
4. Revolution in Mexico 52
5. Venezuela: A Stand Against a Tyrant 58
6. Nicaragua: Deposing Zelaya 66
7. Paris, Wife and Children 73
8. French Foreign Legion in the First World War 79
9. “Over the Top” with the U.S. Army 112
10. Polish-Soviet War 133
11. Greco-Turkish War 140
12. Morocco and the Rif War 145
13. Spanish Civil War 158
14. Dodging the FBI to Recruit Pilots for France 165
15. The Eagle Squadrons and the Battle of Britain 178
16. “Wild Bill” Donovan and the Office of Strategic Services 196
17. Moment of Truth, or How Sweeny Would Have Won World War II 203
18. A Thorn in the Side of Roosevelt 208
19. 2600 Walker Lane 218
20. Defending Petain 221
21. Blaming FDR for Pearl Harbor 228
22. World Disorder and Revolution 237
23. Sweeny’s Last War 241
Chapter Notes 253
Bibliography 271
Index 275