Passing Strange: A Gilded Age Tale of Love and Deception Across the Color Line
Clarence King is a hero of nineteenth-century western history. Brilliant scientist and witty conversationalist, bestselling author and architect of the great surveys that mapped the West after the Civil War, King was named by John Hay "the best and brightest of his generation." But King hid a secret from his Gilded Age cohorts and prominent family in Newport: for thirteen...more
"Martha Sandweiss: "Passing Strange" (Penguin)
Clarence King was a famed explorer, scientist, and hero of late nineteenth century history. But the blue-eyed and fair-skinned King also led a secret double life passing as a black man. A historian examines the secret King only revealed on his deathbed to his black wife of thirteen years."
Sandweiss wrote this book to shed light on Clarence King's marriage to a black woman at the end of the 1800s. She spends the first half detailing King's life as scholar, explorer, gentleman, and geologist. I had no idea King was so important i ...more
King's public life is well documented and dizzying. He criss-crosses the country and the globe, dines with presidents, buys valuable art, discovers glaciers and maps California, writes a book....
Ada, born a slave, leaves Georgia for NYC, learns to read, meets a man with blue eyes who claims to be blac ...more
When I first read the description of this book, I figured he was putting on makeup or whatever to pretend to be black, but apparently in the late-19th/early-20th century, a blue-eyed white guy could just say, "I'm black" and no one would question it. Kinda understandable, considering that Thomas Jefferson's children by Sally Hemmin ...more
The person with the most documentation is Clarence King, and I can't quite decide if he's a sociopath, or just a guy who was so scared to give up the privileges of his upper-class existence that he created an elaborate double life. It's also hard to reconcile the witty, loving, scientific genius that ...more
The basis of this book is the true story of Clarence King. A well-known geologist for the U.S. in the late 1800's. Besides being known as a white man, he also lead a double life as a black steel-worker, married to a black woman. The author has done an incredible job in researching this story- most chapters have 100 or more references.
My problem in trying to r ...more
sad for his wife and children and him too.
Clarence King was a scientist who helped map out the West (as a way to get out of serving in the Civil War) and became pretty famous in the late 1800s, especially after he exposed a hoax involving a supposed diamond mine and saved a lot of important and rich people a lot of money. He spent time with his famous ...more
Although I think the author did a good job of researching the life of Clarence King, there wasn't enough material to make Clarence's (or James Todd's) relationship with Ada a romantic story, which is what I had expected to find. From the facts presented in the book, I ...more
Clarence King wasn’t making an obvious political statement or exercising a lark. A respected geologist and U.S. government official, King appears to have acted from a motive of love. In what had to be a difficult and stressful effort, he moved somewhat successfully for a long period ...more
The interesting part was that in 1888, King married an African American woman named Ada Copeland. Ada was younger, born (into slaver ...more