John Train, Paris Review Co-Founder and Cold War Executive, Dies at 94

One day, when John Train was a graduate student in comparative literature at Harvard University, he came across in Collier’s magazine the name of a man who would inspire lifelong interest: Katz Meow in Hoquiam, Wash.

Train reported the discovery to friends, and they began telling him about other unusual names, including Melissy Dalciny Caldony Yankee Pankee Devil-Take-The-Irishman Garrison, of Tryon City, NC.

He will continue to write not one, not two, but three total book devoted to the topic of “remarkable names of real people,” which caught the attention of an Englishman named Strangeways Pigg Strangeways and Mary Louise Pantzaroff, of Ohio.

It was just one role Mr. Train played – an aspiring chariot-racing hobbyist to book-like success. He helped found the quarterly literary magazine The Paris Review with other Ivy Leaguers while traveling around Paris in the 1950s, and he wrote books on eccentric subjects beyond names, like literary history. representation of the orange and the oriental tapestry symbol.

However, he is also a senior financial and world affairs executive who, according to one researcher, has ties to the US secret services. Mr. Train founded and runs a leading financial firm dedicated to preserving the money of wealthy families, and he worked to support the mujahedeen in their war against the Soviet Union in the 1980s.

The diversity of his career defies definition, but a quality that has underpinned many of his activities. Mr. Train exemplified the attitudes and values ​​of the aristocracy he was born into: postwar white Anglo-Saxon Protestants. He is the best in the world but also egotistical, erudite but also pragmatic, cosmopolitan but also nationalistic, solemn at one moment and attractive to the next.

“His WASPiness was old school, and it was long gone,” said his daughter Nina. “Some of his friends were the last of them. He lived and breathed it. He didn’t change one bit, until the 60s.”

Train died on August 13 at a hospital near his summer home on Islesboro Island in Maine, Nina Train said. He is 94 years old.

John Pell Coster Train was born on May 25, 1928 on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. His family originated in the Americas in the 17th century, and they lived in a townhouse that is now occupied by Buckley School, where he attended.

his father, Arthur, is the Manhattan assistant district attorney who also wrote the popular short story for The Saturday Evening Post about a cunning attorney named Ephraim Tutt. His mother, Helen, is a painter.

John graduated from Harvard University with a bachelor’s degree in 1950 and a master’s degree there in 1951. He quickly moved to Paris and began hanging out with George Plimptonan alumnus of The Harvard Lampoon.

“It is generally agreed that the best thing you can do is start a literary magazine in Paris,” said Mr. Train told The Washington Post in 1980 about the era in which the Paris Review was founded. “It may seem like a strange thing, but I promise you it’s true.”

Mr. Train is credit with naming the magazine and helping establish art for its sake. He worked for a while in what he called “the so-called managing editor,” but he failed to spot a life-long figure in the work. He told Newsday in 1981.

Mr. Train joined the Army Reserve in 1951 and continued his active duty in 1954. He served as a lyricist for the Pentagon. After his discharge in 1956, he began working on Wall Street with mutual fund investors Imrie de Vegh. In the late 1950s, he opened his own company, which had several names over time but was primarily known as Train, Smith Investment Counsel.

The Guardian reports Train, Smith had $375 million under management in 1984. In 1986, Fortune magazine Written that the company of Mr. Train “claims to be the largest company in New York serving wealthy families.”

Investment books by Mr. approved in the New York Times and “classic” in the Wall Street Journal. Among them are a number of successful financiers, whom he calls “masters of money” and their techniques.

In his early 40s, Mr. Train established himself as a white-haired master of the financial universe who wore a bow tie and striped graphic suit. But he wasn’t too mature. For example, he was still able to defend his interest in names in a 1976 Paris Review. article argued that the North would lose the Civil War if Ulysses Grant had been given a less “pretentious” first name.

Other odd concerns of Mr. Train leads to included books “Remarkable words with incredible origins,” “Mots justes and indispensable terms” and “Notable appearances” (In 1895, for example, only two cars existed in Ohio, and Mr. Train claims they collided.)

He treats his political interests less jokingly. A cold-hearted fighter, he writes for The Wall Street Journal on military affairs. He became concerned that the conspirator Lyndon LaRouche was a “probable Soviet agent,” longtime Train aide Sara Perkins said in a phone interview, and he convened meetings at his own home for journalists, real staff law enforcement and others in government to raise awareness of the research he has done on Mr. LaRouche.

Mr. Train’s activism provoked a backlash from Mr. LaRouche’s followers, who accused him in 1991 as “the main propagandist in the ‘Get LaRouche’ campaign.” In 2007, Washington Monthly Written that Mr. LaRouche had encouraged his followers to believe that “they were victims of the mass plots” that Mr. Train “often perpetrated”.

A more ruthless side of Mr. Train’s political involvement was captured in Joel Whitney’s 2016 book, “The Finns: How the CIA Tricked the World’s Best Writers,” history of connection between the founders of the Paris Review and the intelligence agencies.

Draw on a collection of Papers of Mr. at Seton Hall University and in two interviews with him, Whitney wrote that in the 1980s, Train used a “non-profit shell to advance plans” to advance “missions” intelligence and propaganda” of the United States in Afghanistan.

Mr. Train runs an organization, the Afghanistan Relief Committee, self-presentation is largely devoted to helping refugees and providing other forms of humanitarian aid, but research of the Left Institute for Policy Studies found that its budget was spent largely on “communication campaigns”.

“The Finns” did not go into detail about the nature of these campaigns, but it did describe, among other things, a memo showing that Mr. Train had planned to set up “Anti-Propaganda Television” back to the Soviet Union” with the help of Gulbuddin Hekmatyarwho became a warlord designated a terrorist by the United States.

Train’s first marriage, to Maria Teresa Cini di Pianzano, ended in divorce, and in 1977 he married Francie Cheston, who is still living with him. In addition to her and his daughter Nina, from his first marriage he is survived by two other daughters from that marriage, Helen Klebnikov and Lisa Train; a stepdaughter, Alix Tower Thorne; two stepsons, Harry’s Tower and Whitney Jr.’s Tower; six grandchildren; six stepchildren; and nine great-grandchildren.

When he died, he lived on the Upper East Side street where his family lived when he was born.

There is a consistent theme throughout Mr.’s seemingly disparate books. Train: a fondness for elements of everyday life that can be overlooked – names, idioms, common fruits – and requires vigilance to appreciate them.

He writes in “Oriental Rug Symbols” (1997), his study of carpet patterns that adorn homes around the world: “Not many of us examine rugs closely, or are able to interpret them. love their special messages. “In this respect, rugs are like stained glass windows; a person is moved by their beauty, but the experience is enhanced by understanding. “

Alain Delaquérière Contributing research.

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