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A Train Through Time

A Life, Real and Imagined

List Price: $25.00

February 14, 2017 | Hardcover | 5 x 7, 156 Pages  | ISBN 9781619028432

How much of our memory is constructed by our imagination? And how does that memory shape our paths, beliefs, and desires? As a nine-year old, Elizabeth Farnsworth struggled to accept the terrifying loss of her mother to cancer. The loss led to an unusual cross- country journey for Farnsworth and her father. En route to San Francisco from her home town of Topeka, Kansas, the heartsick child searches for her mother at train stations along the way. Even more, she searches for answers—answers to her mother’s death, the speed of time, and to a mysteriously locked compartment on the train.

Weaving a child’s imaginative adventures with vivid memories from her reporting in danger zones like Cambodia and Iraq, Farnsworth explores how she became involved in covering mass death and disaster. While she never breaks the tone of a curious investigator, she easily moves between her nine-year-old self and the experienced, hard-hitting journalist. Imagination is at play throughout her work, whether it be in her childhood adventures or in her narrative control, always with great purpose. She openly confronts the impact of her childhood on the route her life has taken. And, as she provides one beautifully crafted depiction after another, we share her journey, coming to know the acclaimed reporter as she discovers herself. Farnsworth’s curiosity lingers on every page of A Train Through Time: My Life Real and Imagined, and so does the making of a powerfully driven woman.

ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH is a filmmaker, foreign correspondent, and former chief correspondent and principal substitute anchor of PBS’ NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. Her 2008 documentary, The Judge and the General, co-directed with Patricio Lanfranco, aired on television around the world, winning many awards. She has reported from Cambodia, Vietnam, Chile, Haiti, Iraq, and Iran, among other places. She grew up in Topeka, Kansas, where her ancestors were pioneers. She has a B.A. from Middlebury College and an M.A. in history from Stanford University. She lives in Berkeley, California, with her husband, attorney Charles E. Farnsworth. They have two married children and six grandchildren.

She has received four Emmy nominations and is a recipient of the Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia Award, which is often considered the broadcast equivalent of the Pulitzer, which is also administered by Columbia University. Her website is Elizabeth-Farnsworth.com.


“In this book, Elizabeth Farnsworth lays bare the genesis of the caring heart that has so infused her stellar reporting. In flash backs and leaps forward, in fact and fantasy, she takes the reader on a journey that opens up her personal and professional world in a way that is both heartbreaking and heartwarming. It is a unique perspective that deserves to be read by anyone who cares about the news and is curious about someone who does it so well.”—Charlayne Hunter-Gault, author and journalist

A unique, moving, and thought-provoking portrait of Elizabeth’s Farnsworth’s years as a foreign correspondent, beautifully layered with a potent reimagining of the loss she suffered in childhood, one part of her life speaking to the other, answering and assuaging, bringing a long-sought understanding of the pull war zones and conflicts exerted on her.”—Linda Spalding, author of The Purchase

“I began this book with a sense of discovery and finished it in a state of exaltation. Along the way it broke my heart.  It has been a long time since I read a book so moving, plain spoken and beautiful. The instant I finished it, I went back to the beginning and started in again.”—Michael Chabon, Pulitzer-Prize winning author of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay

“A Train in Time is a glimpse of a life both real and imagined, beautifully told. It’s a story of courage and compassion, longing and love. A polished gem, like nothing I’ve ever read before.”— Ayelet Waldman, author Love and Treasure and A Really Good Day

Elizabeth Farnsworth has created a magic potion of prose that has both the deep rhythms and cadences of poetry. Her A TRAIN IN TIME sparkles with the telling of happenings from the real and the imagined.  It is a small jewel of graceful writing, insightful observing and memorable reading that will live in the mind of readers forever.”—Jim Lehrer

“From Vietnam, Cambodia, Iraq, and other outposts of human danger and devastation, famed NewsHour television journalist, Elizabeth Farnsworth brought home tragic news. Yet, as a nine-year-old girl, young Elizabeth faced a tragic loss of her own.  In this riveting book, we meet a brave, questing child, teddy bear under arm, facing the edge of the unbearable, and a highly compassionate adult, seeking to know and help a wounded world. Brilliant. Unforgettable. Healing.”—Arlie Hochschild, author of Strangers In Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right

“In this haunting combination of a reporter’s memories and the imagination of a bereaved child, Elizabeth Farnsworth seamlessly weaves together two different, but not entirely disparate, aspects of her life. The result is a deeply moving piece of literature quite unlike any other I have read.”—Adam Hochschild, author of Spain in Our Hearts: Americans in the Spanish Civil War, 1936-39

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