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How much of our memory is constructed by imagination? And how does memory shape our lives? As a nine-year old, Elizabeth Farnsworth struggled to understand the loss of her mother. On a cross-country trip with her father, the heartsick child searches for her mother at train stations along the way. Even more, she confronts mysteries: death, time, and a mysteriously locked compartment on the train.
Weaving a child’s experiences with memories from reporting in danger zones like Cambodia and Iraq, Farnsworth explores how she came to cover 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 journalist. Imagination is at play in her childhood adventures and 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: A Life Real and Imagined, and so does the making of a powerfully driven woman.
With Photo Art by Mark Serr.
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.