Passing Strange: A Gilded Age Tale Of Love And Deception Across The Color Line
Passing Strange: A Gilded Age Tale of Love and Deception Across the Color Line
Read Martha A. Sandweiss's posts on the Penguin Blog
The secret double life of the man who mapped the American West, and the woman he loved
Clarence King was a late nineteenth-century celebrity, a brilliant scientist and explorer once described by Secretary of State John Hay as "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-the first as the prominent white geologist and writer Clarence King, and a second as the 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. In Passing Strange, noted historian Martha A. Sandweiss tells the dramatic, distinctively American tale of a family built along the fault lines of celebrity, class, and race- a story that spans the long century from Civil War to civil rights.
During America’s Gilded Age, Clarence King was a famous geologist, friend...