The Chronicles of Farquhar McHarg ¡Pistoleros! — 2: 1919, Farquhar McHarg
ISBN-13: ISBN 9781873976-41-8, pp210 (230mm x 153mm)
£14.00 (inc.p+p UK); £16.00
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Click [Pistoleros 2] for a PDF with full details
Pistoleros! 2: 1919 is the second volume of the memoirs and notebooks of Farquhar McHarg, a seventy-six-year-old anarchist from the Govan district of Glasgow, its writing prompted by the murder, in October 1976, of his lifelong friend, Laureano Cerrada Santos. McHarg’s Chronicles record his evolving beliefs and sense of mission, and the remarkable adventures he experienced from the day he sailed into the neutral port of Barcelona in the spring of 1918, a naïve but idealistic eighteen-year-old, and 1976. Farquhar’s Chronicles are folk history, bringing the changes that shook the political and social landscape of Spain (and the world) between 1918 and 1976 into the framework of adult lifetime. They make a vexatious but fascinating story that provides a deep insight into the spirit that moved the selfless, generous, occasionally naïve and recklessly idealistic people who were involved in the bitter social struggles that marked the hectic insurrectionary and utopian aftermath of the great imperialist war of 1914¬1918.
Contemptuous of traditional political parties and professional politicians, and inspired by the example – and the myth – of the Russian Revolution, these men and women aimed to rid the world of a cruel, corrupt, arbitrary and oppressive political and economic system that abused authority and exploited, degraded, tortured and murdered in the name of profit and power.
The transformation of the unworldly young Farquhar, in the climactic and rebellious years between 1918 and 1924, is fascinating to observe as he acquires consciousness and identity through his experiences in a world for which he is little prepared. The journey he embarks upon in these pages is not simply a personal memoir or an exploration of his own psyche; the many hitherto untold stories that unfold along his way provide profound understanding of the circumstances, thoughts and deeds of people who tried to rescue the Europe of the twentieth century from the cycle of disaster, war and death.
What they’ve said so far…
“‘Astonishing — a new sort of history fiction or ‘doction’, thrilling to read and the most gripping illustrations I ever saw in one book — only wish the publisher had given them a full page each.”
Neal Ascherson, journalist, author, lecturer, screenwriter, editor of Public Archeology, and Visiting Professor at the Institute of Archaeology, University College, London
“It’s not quite the Farquhar I remember, but I can confirm he knew a girl called Lara because she was the sister of a lover of a very close acquaintance of mine. Her memories were, according to him, not untinged with bitterness. Not my business of course. And who knows what really went on ? I was told Lara found a certain revenge by running off with his false tooth (the original being knocked out, you’ll recall, by a Fascist gun butt at the bakery siege in Barcelona). I got all this from ‘Colonel’ M.A.Pyatnitski who had been part of the aborted German aerial experiments of 1938 and have to admit he was a bit unreliable. His implacable hatred of anarchists coloured everything he told me.”
Michael Moorcock, author and musician
“When I was in Spain making Dr Zhivago I well remember a strikingly dashing and charismatic Scot who was working as an extra. His name was Farquhar and one night after shooting we spoke for hours in the bar. He said that he had been in a love with a woman called Lara. I recall that he had had a remarkable life and I told him that he should one day write it down. What a thrill to find out that he did so.”
Julie Christie, actor
“Written with tremendous brio, this is a passionate and gripping tale of an idealist’s ‘coming of age. McHarg’s gripping narrative convincingly taps the rich historical seams of intrigue, protest and conflict of an age in which many of the streets of Barcelona, like those of many other European cities, became stained with blood due to the struggle between the defenders of the established order and those who dreamed of overthrowing it.”
Dr Chris Ealham, author of Class, Culture and Conflict in Barcelona 1898–1937
“The first volume of memoirs from Farquhar McHarg, is a highly charged narrative that fires from the hip in its scattergun treatment of revolutionary politics. It made me think of Marx’s Herr Vogt meets Roddy Doyle’s A Star Called Henry. Punchy as a bare-knuckle boxer, the writing in this vivid ‘red noir’ captures the craziness and complexity of the period, as well as exploring the big issues of commitment, faith and violence. In its heady brew of poetry and polemics and its dynamic depiction of the anarchist version of revolution it also does what it says in the title, and offers an explosive account that is as anarchic as the worldview it espouses. A book you’d want to carry in your bandolier.”
Professor Willy Maley, Professor of Renaissance Studies, University of Glasgow
“Having known Farquhar McHarg in his prime, and despaired of him ever putting down on paper his extraordinary experiences, I am delighted that he has finally done so. Glasgow’s answer to Victor Serge has produced a document of remarkable value, so grippingly written that one might almost think it was a novel.”
Professor Paul Preston, historian, Hispanist and Principe de Asturias. Professor of Contemporary Spanish Studies, LSE
“A fact-packed history of anarchist struggle against the Spanish Catholic Church and state written by a Glaswegian whose revolutionary syndicalism is felt to be partly the inheritance of ‘the Presbyterian and Covenanting tradition’ in which he was brought up. As such this instructive and entertaining memoir is not only both a kind of retrospective ‘prequel’ to the story and ideas of Stuart Christie’s excellent Granny Made me an Anarchist, but its Scottish antecedents also take in not only the anarchism of Guy Aldred, but the polemical and committed covenanting history of John Galt’s great novel Ringan Gilhaize.”
Tom Leonard, poet, professor and author of outside the narrative. Poems 1965-2009
“…A rare plunge into the dark whirlpool of politics, passion and intrigue that swirled around the docks, bars and tenements of Barcelona in 1918. B. Traven would be envious of McHarg’s skill in re-creating the dangers and treachery of the times with such historical accuracy. The story is a fascinating bildungsroman; a young Scots seaman has hardly set foot on shore before he is caught up in the maelstrom. Chance encounters with charismatic characters of Barcelona’s anarchist movement combined with tests of his resolve bring about the dawning of his own political consciousness and commitment. It is above all a richly-textured adventure story, refreshing in its humour and in its illuminating depiction of life in a period and place that will be unfamiliar to many readers of British fiction. Pistoleros! is a crack shot that rings out to remind us of times that were less bland.”
Pauline Melville, writer, actress and author of Shape-Shifter, The Ventriloquist’s Tale, The Migration of Ghosts and Eating Air
“What a remarkable and rollicking tale Farquar McHarg has to tell, one that will fascinate anyone interested in anarchy, life, love, Scotland, Spain and the world. When we met very briefly in the late sixties in Les Deux Magots in Paris, he kept a bunch of us entranced with his adventures — then he borrowed some francs off me to buy his round and must have lost his way back to the table for I never saw him again. What a treat to be able to read those stories in all their vivid historical splendour at last.”
Duncan Campbell, journalist (The Guardian — former senior reporter, Los Angeles’ and crime correspondent), author of The Paradise Trail, and screenwriter
“Pistoleros! Is the story of twentieth century anarchism as witnessed by McHarg, a Glaswegian anarchist engineer who became embroiled in Spanish revolutionary politics at the end of the First World War. Curiously echoing the editor Christie’s own life fifty years later, the youthful and naïve McHarg jumps ship in Barcelona and enlists with the CNT (the anarchist national workers union) in their struggle against the bosses proto-fascist murder squads and para-military catholic groups (which provided training for the likes of Franco in murder and suppression techniques).
Pistoleros! is written in the style of a genre thriller with all of the accompanying intrigues; double dealing spy networks, evil foreign agents, love
and betrayal all framed within the romantic backdrop of post WW1 Barcelona – and in this way it’s is a gripping read, yet these characters and events are real, the colourful backdrop the grim reality of poverty versus the opulence and wealth of the Barcelona bourgeoisie.
Anarchists are often caricatured as firebrands and disorganised individualists and universally accused of being better at ‘analysing the problem’ rather than providing practical solutions. Pistoleros! shows that the history of Anarchism has been that of pragmatism; Anarchists were always on the frontline of providing real-world solutions through organised labour in effective opposition to the exploitation and corruption of the ruling classes – when the traditional left were constantly mired in internal power politics and global machinations.”
Simon Crab, musician and designer (http://crab.wordpress.com/)
‘This splendid memoir is marred only be some carelessness in the caption writing that (for example) misdates a picture of Clyde pleasure steamers to a much later epoch.’
Ian Jack, journalist, columnist, former editor of Granta and author of The Country Formerly Known as Great Britain.