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It is sad to
say but Negley Farson, at one time considered one of North America’s most
intrepid journalists, is probably little known today to most readers under the
age of 50. Born in Plainfield, New Jersey, Farson was raised by his eccentric
grandfather, the notorious Civil War General James Negley who ‘made other men
look like mongrel dogs.’ With such a colourful family background, it should have
come as no surprise that young Negley was not only expelled from college but
immediately emigrated on to England.
The excitement of the First World War soon lured him even further afield. The
young student, now turned journalist, soon showed up in Russia and was present
in Red Square the day the Bolshevik Revolution broke out. Farson went on to
become one of the most renowned foreign correspondents of his day. He covered a
host of varied and exciting world events including interviewing Gandhi in India,
witnessing bank-robber John Dillinger’s naked body in the morgue just after he
had been shot down by Hoover’s men, and meeting Hitler, who described Farson’s
small blond son, Daniel, as a “good Aryan boy.”
A renowned fly-fisherman, Farson’s private life was just as turbulent as his
journalism career. He partied with F. Scott Fitzgerald and supposedly out-drank
Negley Farson was the grandson of an
American civil war general who rode with Sherman as they burned Georgia from
Atlanta to the sea. Perhaps that is what gave the young man his life-long
thirst for adventure? Farson flew with the Royal Flying Corps during the
First World War, took part in the Russian revolution, was present at the
arrest of Gandhi, and went on to become one of the most celebrated
international journalists of his day.
One of Farson’s adventures stands alone, his equestrian exploration of
the Western Caucasus mountains. The intrepid reporter saddled up in the
spring of 1929, accompanied by an aging, eccentric Englishman who lived in
Moscow. With no prior equestrian travel experience between them, the two
would-be explorers were soon discovering the harsh realities of life on the
road. They were lashed by hailstorms, threatened by skeptical Soviet
commissars, denied shelter by suspicious natives, and spent night after
night in rain-soaked misery.
A personal chronicle of an already exciting life, “Caucasian Journey” tells
how Farson also discovered the seldom-seen splendors of this mountainous
region with its alpine snowfields painted gold by the sun, picturesque
villages forgotten by the outer world, and magnificent horsemen who were
practically born in the saddle.
A thrilling account and a poetic remembrance, “Caucasian Journey” is an
amply illustrated adventure classic.
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