The most interesting man in the world?

by on February 19, 2012 at 7:32 am in History | Permalink

At 9, he settled a dispute with a pistol. At 13, he lit out for the Amazon jungle.

At 20, he attempted suicide-by-jaguar. Afterward he was apprenticed to a pirate. To please his mother, who did not take kindly to his being a pirate, he briefly managed a mink farm, one of the few truly dull entries on his otherwise crackling résumé, which lately included a career as a professional gambler.

From the NYTimes obit of John Fairfax and oh did I mention he rowed across the Atlantic…and the Pacific.

1 Andreas Moser February 19, 2012 at 7:50 am

That’s what you can call a life.
Not just spending time here on earth, as most of us do.

2 dearieme February 19, 2012 at 8:00 am

He’s half Bulgarian and didn’t impale anyone? Call that interesting?

3 Marian Kechlibar February 19, 2012 at 9:51 am

I am half Bulgarian too and haven’t impaled anyone yet (you might be confusing Bulgarians with Romanians here), but I do keep a list of eligible people…

4 Mark Thorson February 19, 2012 at 11:59 am

Hear that, CBBB? You’ve been warned!

5 dearieme February 19, 2012 at 12:51 pm

“you might be confusing Bulgarians with Romanians here”

My dear Sir (or Madam) I do tender my apologies.

6 Dan in Euroland February 19, 2012 at 2:48 pm

No worries, they are close enough.

7 affe February 19, 2012 at 9:05 pm

There is an old Russian proverb: ‘If you see a Bulgarian on the street, beat him. He will know why.”

As a non-Russian, I ask – why ?

8 Krigl February 22, 2012 at 9:45 am

Well, then you should probably just fall back to choosing the most prominent enemy and making a chalice of his skull.

9 Ryan February 19, 2012 at 8:27 am

Rich and spoiled.

10 brostiat February 19, 2012 at 11:43 am


11 Mark February 19, 2012 at 12:09 pm

At 13 he was self-sufficient and living in the jungles of South America. He had run away from a single-parent household. Now how is that rich and spoiled? Even if we assume mommy was rich – having the grit to take off at 13 and figure out how to live on the land is hardly spoiled.

12 Ryan February 20, 2012 at 11:17 am

Drawing a pistol within a boy scout group hardly rings of a young lad brought up with conservative principles or really, principles that guide one on how to resolve a dispute.

“When he ran out of money, Fairfax decided to return to his mother…”
He was rich. Any other kid would not have the luxuries he had. Read up.

Alex asked the question. I answered. I’m not envious either.

13 Brent February 19, 2012 at 9:34 am

“Baccarat is equal parts skill and chance.”


14 Sam February 19, 2012 at 9:42 am

Well French baccarat possibly has some element of skill. conversely Baccarat as usually played in the US has zero skill involved.

15 harryh February 20, 2012 at 2:19 am

Indeed. The last 3 sentences nearly ruin the whole thing.

16 Gabriel E February 19, 2012 at 11:36 am

This is the South American Chuck Norris?

17 Andreas Moser February 19, 2012 at 11:47 am

or Jack Bauer

18 Nicoli February 19, 2012 at 1:18 pm

or Sterling Archer

19 JWatts February 19, 2012 at 6:39 pm

No, Sterling Archer wouldn’t have run away from his mother. Nor would he ever voluntarily trapped himself in a boat with one woman for months.

20 efp February 20, 2012 at 12:30 pm

And he would never harm an ocelot.

21 Kalim Kassam February 19, 2012 at 3:18 pm

I unintentionally stole your headline when I tweeted this as obit as of the “2nd most interesting man in the world”.

My choice for #1 is Hillaire Du Berrier. His obit:

22 O.P. February 20, 2012 at 8:01 am

Well, an avid anti-communist who “recognized from the start that [the European Union] was a scheme to gradually fasten a socialist superstate on the nations of Europe” is certainly an interesting person. Not necessarily most credible, though.

23 joshua February 19, 2012 at 3:43 pm

The man’s wiki contains a few more small gems:

“…San Francisco. When he ran out of money, Fairfax decided to return to his mother in Argentina by bike. He got as far as Guatemala…”

24 ohwilleke February 19, 2012 at 7:45 pm

Mink farming is quite a bit more interesting than it sounds.

25 Andrew' February 20, 2012 at 4:30 am

Especially free-range mink farming.

26 freethinker February 19, 2012 at 8:14 pm

Tyler this is supposed to be an economics blog but these days you put in lots of stuff which have nothing to do with economics. Start a separate blog for such stuff. A guy rowed across the Atlantic and the Pacific, so why is that important in an economics blog?

27 affe February 19, 2012 at 9:07 pm

Check the tagline, closereader.

28 DK February 20, 2012 at 2:13 am

Prolific linkage is what people come here for. Take out linkage and it will be the most mediocre blog in the world. But the linkage if really great.

29 Matt Flipago February 20, 2012 at 1:30 pm

When was this ever JUST an economics blog?

30 Andrew' February 20, 2012 at 4:31 am

How does one fail suicide-by-jaguar? The jaguar chooses to domesticate to you?

31 joshua February 20, 2012 at 7:21 am

Keep reading.

32 JC February 20, 2012 at 10:22 am

If John Fairfax were to pat you on the back, you’d put it on your resume…stay thirsty my friends.

33 Dumpsterjuice February 22, 2012 at 9:58 pm

You might check out Richard Francis Burton. Largely self-taught, fluent in over 30 languages, considered to be the finest swordsman in the world. Infiltrated different cults to learn religion, he wrote Tales of the Arabian Knights from stories collected in Mecca, wrote the Kamra Sutra while a member of a love cult in India. As a child actively tried to kill any teacher his parents would hire.

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