Her story is little more than conjecture until the last chapters of the book, where the description of her battle with the keepers of King's secrets, memory and legacy,is presented in the courts. Winning only the title to her home, Ada's best revenge was living to the age of Likely, she had no enmity against the man who had most wronged her by lying to her about his identity through 13 years of marriage and 5 children, but I think I have enough for her. There is also the matter of the lies he told to his sister and mother, not to mention the lies he committed by omission when he failed to tell his friends the true nature of his relations and lifestyle.
Clarence King was no better than the slave owners who abused their "property" whenever they liked. True, he did keep her in middle-class style by 19th C black standards , and did profess love undying for her and the children, but this does not excuse his excessive lying.
See a Problem?
Something was wrong with King. His relationship with Ada was abuse of power, plain and simple. He wanted a woman with little education, little knowledge of the world; he wanted a woman of color because of his notions of the passionate and sensual nature of "exotics". Clarence King was a ruddy bastard. Jun 29, Joni rated it it was ok Shelves: Somehow this fascinating story of a mixed marriage at the end of the 19th Century was a big slog.
The story picks up after King dies, but the first half, especially before he met Ada was a full of the kind of writing that gives non-fiction a bad reputation. Sandweiss wrote this book to shed light on Clarence King's marriage to a black woman at the end of the s. She spends the first half detailing King's life as scholar, explorer, gentleman, and geologist. I had no idea King was so important i Somehow this fascinating story of a mixed marriage at the end of the 19th Century was a big slog. I had no idea King was so important in mapping the western part of the US. But it seemed irrelevant to the story Sandweiss wanted to convey.
And very detail laden. I skimmed a bunch and I think I skipped some pages. If you want to read the book anyway, read the first couple chapters, then go read the Wikipedia entry, then come back and read the last pages. Feb 07, Barbara Mader rated it did not like it. I felt this might have made a pretty interesting magazine article but that it was too slight and had far too much conjecture in it to build a book upon.
Interesting idea, but too much about everything dull--too much about his debt, too many mentions of his reputation as a brilliant talker, and dear heaven, too much detail about the lawyers contacted--a whole mini-biography of one lawyer who didn't even take the case to trial. A case of an author wanting to include every bit of research done. The I felt this might have made a pretty interesting magazine article but that it was too slight and had far too much conjecture in it to build a book upon. The very start of the book almost made me close it at once--an opening detailing the census taker of walking down the street, you know, the kind of thing where the writer pretends to have been there.
HATE that in non-fiction. This work of non-fiction explores the double life of Clarence King.
King was a late nineteenth-century celebrity who was well known for his work as an explorer in the American west and his best selling writing. He was from a prominent family from Newport, Rhode Island and was friends with well known individuals of the day including Secretary of State John Hay and Henry Adams, who was descended from two American presidents. Yet little did his family and friends know that Clarence King had a secon This work of non-fiction explores the double life of Clarence King. Yet little did his family and friends know that Clarence King had a second life in which he was known as James Todd, a light skinned black Pullman porter and steelworker married to Ada Copeland and father of five children.
Not until he was on his deathbed did his reveal his real identity to his wife. King's double life was possible because of the fluid nature of racial identity in America at the time, which allowed him to convince his wife that he was indeed a light skinned black man. Rather than moving toward legal and social privilege, he moved away from it.
He glimpsed something he sought in Ada Copeland and her African American world" By dissembling to his wife about his true identity, he rightly assumed that for her it was easier and safer to be married to a well off Pullman porter than to be known as a woman in an interracial marriage. He was also clever in selecting a fictional profession of Pullman porter that affirmed his supposed black identity and that would explain both how he afforded a fairly affluent lifestyle and to explain his frequent absences.
The most tantalizing part of this incredible story is the scant lack of details. Although much is known about King's life as Clarence King, little is known about his secret life as James Todd and very little details are known about his wife. Indeed, much of the details about her life are from decades after his death, when she went to court to try to win the inheritance her husband had promised her when he was dying.
The author uses historical research to imagine what Ada's life was like, but the reality is that no one knows exactly how the two met or their courtship or many details about her childhood or family background. Furthermore, although it appears clear that Ada truly did not know her husband was Clarence King until his death, it would be interesting to know exactly what she did know or what he did communicate to her about the time they spent apart.
A fascinating story that was well told by Sandweiss but would have been even more fascinating if somehow had thought to interview Ada or her children for more details during their lifetime. A true shame that so much of this story was lost to history. Feb 08, Louise rated it liked it Shelves: This is an interesting story of a turn of the century, bi-racial, clandestine marriage. The work shows significant research, but after pages both Clarence and Ada Copeland King remain a mystery. 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 This is an interesting story of a turn of the century, bi-racial, clandestine marriage.
Ada, born a slave, leaves Georgia for NYC, learns to read, meets a man with blue eyes who claims to be black, becomes his common law wife and bears him 5 children. She accepts that he has no family and that as a Pullman porter, steelworker or clerk, he is supporting her, the children and their servants in what seems to be a pretty good style. Clarence's personality is said to be totally magnetic. John Hay, no stranger to magnetic personalities, underwrites his life and beyond. Where does the money go? This seems to be an extraordinary act of friendship.
Passing Strange by Martha A. Sandweiss | oxivecakyhub.ga
The book is very wordy. There are long paragraphs about the changing race categories in the Census, what "slumming" was, descriptions of Ada's lawyers etc. I would have preferred more text devoted to the marriage, family, and other personal relationships. What did Clarence and Ada have in common? What was their attraction? How often and how long was he really with her in their home? It is hinted that he was not always "true" to her in his travels. Maybe he did not attend the masked ball Why the abrupt move to Toronto? Clarence has extraordinary bonds with his friends Like the marriage, there is no context for understanding these unusual relationships.
How did Clarence relate to his children? Given their future lives he doesn't seem to impart his sense of adventure or outdoor life to them.
A Gilded Age Tale of Love and Deception Across the Color Line
Did this aspect of him disappear at "home"? Did he encourage them to go to college? How did Ada find out about his professional life and social background? What was her reaction? There are a few quotes from Clarence's letters but they seem stilted and more part of the genre of the time than deeply felt. The part about the trial implies that a lot of their personal life was put on record. Longer quotes from these letters and more text from the trial would have helped depict these personalities. Clarence King is a man known to few Americans today.
Yet when he lived, he had enjoyed a high regard and reputation as a geologist, explorer, first director of the United States Geological Survey USGS , and writer of "Mountaineering in the Sierra Nevada. What was not known, however, was that, from the late s until his death, King had lived a double life. He had assumed the identity of a fair-skinned black man "Negro" and married a black woman with whom he had 5 children.
This book gives the reader entree into, not only King's life, but also the life of his wife, and the subtle and virulent racism common in late 19th and early 20th century America. In reading this book, there was one paragraph that resonated deeply with me. It is, as follows: He helped engineer that expansion, harnessing federal resources to map the region's contours, catalog its natural wealth, and imagine how it could fuel the growth of American enterprise. But with the West mapped, its vast stretches of sparse settlement crisscrossed by railroads, its natural resources increasingly in the hands of large corporations, imagination and bravery were no longer enough.
Scientific knowledge and personal bravado now mattered less than capital and corporate know-how. Apr 10, Pamela rated it liked it.
He and Ada had 5 children in the 13 years they were together before he died. He kept the life with Ada a secret - - telling her his name was James Todd and that he was a Pullman porter, which provided supposed proof that he was black although he looked white , and also provided the excuse for him to be gone from home a lot. The book itself is chock full of excellent research. It is a bit frustrating because there is almost no information available about Ada, and about the marriage. King had a very problematic, demanding mother who relied on him to an extreme, and he also borrowed a lot of money during his lifetime, dying in major debt with no means of support for his family available.
This book was a bit drawn out, at times dry with suppositions and facts to support those ideas, but in the end I am glad I read it; it is a fascinating story of a bit of history many people might not be aware of. Jul 13, Emily rated it it was ok. This book was chosen for my book club, otherwise I probably would have never read it on my own.
This is a true story about a caucasian, world-renown geologist Clarence King that was "passing" as an African-American in the late s. King ended up marrying an African-American woman and having 5 children with her. This book is about the journey that got him there and his world of deception This book was chosen for my book club, otherwise I probably would have never read it on my own.
This book is about the journey that got him there and his world of deception that allowed him to do both for so long. The style of writing in the book is really dry. The main character disgusts me because of the level of deception that is rampant throughout his life. Not that these stories never happen even in today's world , but because he lied to absolutely everybody he knew and never gave it up -- all at the expense of his wife and 5 children.
Others in my book club disagreed with my disgust with this man and felt almost sorry for him for not being able to live the life he wanted. I think he wanted to mislead everybody. All of that said, I am glad I read the book because it is a true story. In the quick amount of reseach we did on the book, we could not find another significant portrayal of King's double life, so for that I am glad I read this book -- which is why I bumped my review from one to two stars. It really is a fascinating tale, but could have been written in a more intriguing style.
Jun 19, Anne rated it it was amazing. I guess I read the back of the book too quickly in the airport bookstore because I thought it was about a black man passing in white 19th century America and having a brilliant career. In fact, it is about an upper-middle-class white man, a prominent geologist and scholar, passing as a black man to marry a black nursery maid. It is a fascinating story though one with little documentation for the historian author to build upon. The book provides insight into the historian's craft as the author st I guess I read the back of the book too quickly in the airport bookstore because I thought it was about a black man passing in white 19th century America and having a brilliant career.
The book provides insight into the historian's craft as the author struggles to give us as full a picture of Ada Copeland as she does of Clarence King, but her efforts are thwarted by their vast difference in class and race. Instead she uses the dearth of information on her female subject and on the secret marriage as a springboard to discuss a myriad of 19th century historical, social, and academic themes including westward exploration and expansion, geological time debates, male friendship, race definitions and passing, African American migration, African American religion, abolitionism, development of scientific and technical education, international travel and trade, literacy, West Indian immigration, and the back collapse of Jun 13, Paul rated it really liked it Shelves: This book really hits close to home, because I still haven't told my wife that I'm actually an year-old Korean woman, so I very much empathize with King's position.
Kinda understandable, considering that Thomas Jefferson's children by Sally Hemmin This book really hits close to home, because I still haven't told my wife that I'm actually an year-old Korean woman, so I very much empathize with King's position. One major downside of this book is that Sandweiss really fleshes out the narrative with a lot of conjecture, lots of "perhaps she thought X" or "possibly she did Y". I think of this as more of a writing tick than the kind of baseless speculation that I would normally hate, really - I get the impression that this was Sandweiss's way of explaining what the common behaviors were at the time, to put into perspective why this crazy story might have been more plausible than it seems on its face.
Still, it would have been preferable ifi she had been more explicit about that. Feb 28, Frank Stein rated it really liked it. An unbelievable story told with verve and insight. This book is partially a biography of Clarence King, a famed author and friend of notables like John Hay Secretary of State under Roosevelt, who called King "the best and brightest of his generation" and Henry Adams of "The Education of Henry Adams" fame , who was also the first director of the United States Geological Survey What Sandweiss shows here, though, is that he lived a secret double life, spending years pretending to be An unbelievable story told with verve and insight.
What Sandweiss shows here, though, is that he lived a secret double life, spending years pretending to be a black Pullman car porter named James Todd so that he could marry his love Ada Copeland, an ex-slave from Georgia living in Brooklyn. Sandweiss is able to relate King's odd habit of sudden disappearance from the historical record to the times he spent with his black family and with the birth of his children.
Only at his deathbed did he reveal to his wife that he was not a Pullman porter but one of the most famous men of the era, and white. The parts about his marriage to Ada are ultimately built on speculation, but Sandweiss conducts much of this with surprising intuition and confidence. Though some parts drag, this is an amazing story that deserves to be more widely known.
Jun 18, Heather rated it liked it Shelves: Interesting and troubling story. It's really hard to know what in the heck was really going on, and the fact that the author speculates so much because of lack of documentation is less than ideal. 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 Interesting and troubling story. It's also hard to reconcile the witty, loving, scientific genius that his friends describe with a man who would deceive the person he professes to love, live so far beyond his means that he borrowed the modern equivalent of millions of dollars from a friend, and who held such snobbish and patronizing ideas about those less fortunate than himself his fascination with "slumming" is particularly vexing.
That said, it's an interesting story and should provide lots to talk about at book group. Some parts were more interesting than others, but the last half of the book practically flew by. It is not surprising to find that a lot about this marriage has to be inferred from other stories of the time. It is a good book on the history of mapping the west and the development of the science of geology. It's a fascinating look at how people did "pass" and what race and interracial relationships meant through time.
I was, however, disappointed in how little was really known about the marriage of the main character. It is not surprising that records don't exist, given that this was a secre It is not surprising to find that a lot about this marriage has to be inferred from other stories of the time.
It is not surprising that records don't exist, given that this was a secret life that he lead, but I was still disappointed because the book seemed to sell it's self as a more intimate story. Definitely interesting and well written, and I almost gave it three stars for being so thought provoking I will definitely be lending this book and out and wanting to talk about it with friends, but I will "sell" it for what it is- A thought provoking historical perspective and not an intimate story about a family.
Jan 28, Cydnie rated it it was ok Shelves: I gave this book 2 stars mostly because I couldn't get myself to finish reading it. The author's research alone probably deserves more. The basis of this book is the true story of Clarence King. A well-known geologist for the U. 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 or more references. My problem in trying to r I gave this book 2 stars mostly because I couldn't get myself to finish reading it.
In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content: Rent from DeepDyve Recommend.