For Whom the Bell Tolls is a novel by Ernest Hemingway published in 1940. It tells the story of Robert Jordan, a young American volunteer attached to a Republican guerrilla unit during the Spanish Civil War. As a dynamiter, he is assigned to blow up a bridge during an attack on the city of Segovia.
It was published just after the end of the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939), whose general lines were well known at the time. It assumes the reader knows that the war was between a democratically elected, pro-working-class and anti-Catholic government, supported by the Soviet Union, which many foreigners like Robert went to Spain to help, and a successful, dictatorial, Catholic, pro-landowner revolt, supported by Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. It was commonly viewed as the dress rehearsal for the Second World War. In 1940, the year the book was published, the United States had not yet entered the war, which had begun on Sept. 1, 1939, with Nazi Germany's invasion of Poland.