September 22, 2022


John Train, Paris Review cofounder and Cold War operative, dies at 94 (Alex Traub, 9/22/22, New York Times)

Yet he was also an operator in high finance and world affairs who, by one researcher's account, had ties to U.S. secret services. Mr. Train founded and ran a leading financial firm devoted to preserving the money of rich families, and he worked to support the mujahedeen in their fight against the Soviet Union in the 1980s.

The multifariousness of his career defies definition, but one quality did underlie his many activities. Mr. Train exemplified the attitudes and values of the exalted class he was born into: the white Anglo-Saxon Protestants of the postwar era. He was globe-bestriding but also self-effacing, erudite but also pragmatic, cosmopolitan but also nationalistic, solemn at one moment and droll the next.

"His WASPiness was so old school, and it's long gone now," his daughter Nina said. "Some of his friends were the last of that ilk. He lived and breathed it. He didn't change one bit, right through the '60s." [...]

By his early 40s, Mr. Train was himself a white-haired master of the financial universe who wore a bow tie and pinstripe suit. But he had not grown up excessively. He was still capable, for instance, of defending his interest in names in a 1976 Paris Review article that argued that the North would have lost the Civil War if Ulysses Grant had been given a first name with less "panache."

Mr. Train's other oddball preoccupations that led to books included "remarkable words with astonishing origins," "mots justes and indispensable terms" and "remarkable occurrences" (in 1895, for instance, only two cars existed in Ohio, and, Mr. Train claimed, they collided).

He treated his political interests less jokingly. A committed cold warrior, he wrote for The Wall Street Journal about military affairs. He became concerned that the conspiracy-monger Lyndon LaRouche was a "possible Soviet agent," Mr. Train's longtime assistant Sara Perkins said in a phone interview, and he convened meetings at his home for journalists, law enforcement agents and others in government to raise awareness about research he had done into LaRouche.

Posted by at September 22, 2022 7:16 AM