The publisher's summary reads:
- "In the woods of upper Michigan, James Cortland deals with the infidelity of his wife and his own mortality. When three dangerous criminals appear at the old Cortland farm, papa's most famous hero is faced with a terrible choice. Rich in event and symbolism, Ernest Hemingway's final novel was awarded the Pulitzer Prize shortly before his death. $7.50."
The novel opens thusly:
- A man's life was five dogs long, Cortland believed.
- The first was the one that taught you. The second was the one you taught. The third and fourth were the ones you worked. The last was the one that outlived you. That was the winter dog. Cortland's winter dog had no name. He thought of it only as "the scarecrow dog."