Martha A. Sandweiss is professor of history at Princeton University. “A remarkable feat of research and reporting that covers the long century from the Civil War to civil rights, Passing Strange tells a uniquely American story of self-invention, love, deception, and race.”
Clarence King is a hero of nineteenth-century western history: a brilliant scientist and witty conversationalist, bestselling author and architect of the great surveys that mapped the West after the Civil War. Secretary of State John Hay called King “the best and brightest of his generation.” But King hid a secret from his Gilded Age cohorts and prominent family in Newport: for thirteen years he lived a double life–as the celebrated white explorer, geologist, and writer Clarence King and as a black Pullman porter and steelworker named James Todd. The fair, blue-eyed son of a wealthy China trader passed across the color line, revealing his secret to his black common-law wife, Ada Copeland, only on his deathbed.”
Posted on June 11, 2009, in Books and tagged Ada Copeland, Ada Todd, books, Clarence King, history, James Todd, Martha A. Sandweiss, mixed-race Americans, non fiction, Passing Strange, reading, Secretary of State John Hay. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.