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Almost Hemingway

The Adventures of Negley Farson, Foreign Correspondent
Rex Bowman and Carlos Santos

BUY Cloth · 288 pp. · 6 × 9 · ISBN 9780813946672 · $29.95 · Aug 2021
BUY Ebook · 288 pp. · ISBN 9780813946689 · $29.95 · Aug 2021

Would it surprise you to learn that there was a contemporary of Ernest Hemingway’s who, in his romantic questing and hell-or-high-water pursuit of life and his art, was closer to the Hemingwayesque ideal than Hemingway himself? Almost Hemingway relates the life of Negley Farson, adventurer, iconoclast, best-selling writer, foreign correspondent, and raging alcoholic who died in oblivion. Born only a few years before Hemingway, Farson had a life trajectory that paralleled and intersected Hemingway’s in ways that compelled writers for publications as divergent as the Guardian and Field & Stream to compare them. Unlike Hemingway, however, Farson has been forgotten.

This high-flying and literate biography recovers Farson’s life in its multifaceted details, from his time as an arms dealer to Czarist Russia during World War I, to his firsthand reporting on Hitler and Mussolini, to his assignment in India, where he broke the news of Gandhi’s arrest by the British, to his excursion to Kenya a few years before the Mau Mau Uprising. Farson also found the time to publish an autobiography, The Way of a Transgressor, which made him an international publishing sensation in 1936, as well as Going Fishing, one of the most enduring of all outdoors books.

F. Scott Fitzgerald, a fellow member of the Lost Generation whose art competed with a public image grander than reality, once confessed that while he had to rely on his imagination, Farson could simply draw from his own event-filled life. Almost Hemingway is the definitive window on that remarkable story.


Negley Farson lived his life like a headlong attack, and Rex Bowman and Carlos Santos keep pace with him. Almost Hemingway is a beautifully written account of an avatar of a vanishing breed—the adventurer. It is a distinct pleasure to barrel through Farson’s vivid life with the authors.

Mary Dearborn · Ernest Hemingway: A Biography

Almost Hemingway is a revelation and a page turner — the story of a 'mutinous existential renegade' who trekked the world by boat, car, train and horseback, won fame, faced dangers, wrote magnifient prose and lived by the creed that 'men who spent their time merely trying to get rich were pitiably dumb bastards.' Bowman and Santos capture Negley Farson's life in all its brilliance and daredeviltry. It's hard to put down a book that includes such lines as: 'After forcing Farson to make a drunken speech, the regiment carried him around the town square on their shoulders.'

Michael Hudson · Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Monster: How a Gang of Predatory Lenders and Wall Street Bankers Fleeced America–and Spawned a Global Crisis

Negley Farson. The name alone conjures up the incredible life story. This twentieth century epic unfolds in the authors’ capable hands, sweeping across the continents and spanning two world wars, bringing back the romance and excitement of the foreign correspondent. In lively prose, the authors show how he lived by his wits, struggled with alcohol, and needed little more than a manual typewriter and a telephone to do his job.

Nicholas Reynolds, author of New York Times bestseller Writer, Sailor, Soldier, Spy: Ernest Hemingway's Secret Adventures, 1935-1961

Although Farson 'managed to hide the deepest parts of himself,' the authors draw on his memoirs, letters, and reportage to create a lively chronicle of his peripatetic adventures... A brisk tale of an eventful life.

Kirkus Reviews

A lively, engaging, and fast-paced tale of an incredible adventurer. Farson, the author of travel books published from the 1930s through the 1950s--ranging from the Caucasus to Africa, but also including a book on the Blitz and the apparently immortal Going Fishing--investigated the politics, the ordinary life, and the flora and fauna of almost every continent. He interspersed his observations about the lives of others with reports of his own daredevil expeditions crossing treacherous mountain paths and fording rushing streams.

Nancy L. Green, École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, author of The Other Americans in Paris: Businessmen, Countesses, Wayward Youth, 1880-1941

[A] bustling debut biography... fans of the Lost Generation will be entertained by this rip-roaring account of a larger-than-life character mostly lost to history.

Publishers Weekly

This now-obscure author deserves a place outside of Papa's shadow.... Never heard of him? You’re not alone. But in Almost Hemingway: The Adventures of Negley Farson, Foreign Correspondent, authors Rex Bowman and Carlos Santos reveal the tale of this real-life daredevil, deadline-writer extraordinaire, and, in the words of one reviewer, "mutinous existential renegade."

Washington Independent Review of Books

Bowman and Santos—both former journalists who know how to tell a story—say {Farson}‘lived each day as if it were a door that needed kicking in.’... [He] had grabbed his existence as few men ever do—with both hands—and squeezed it for every drop."

Wall Street Journal

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