In Passing Strange
, Martha A. Sandweiss takes a mountain of information and transforms it into a smooth, captivating narrative. Covering a century of American history, including geographical expansion, economic trends, and social values could have proved too plodding for one read; however, Ms. Sandweiss pulls it off seamlessly. With a thorough, straightforward style, she streamlines an era of historical data into an enjoyable, intriguing account of the unlikely love story of Clarence King (aka Charles Todd) and Ada Copeland.
To untangle this intricate story, Sandweiss methodically walks us through the arbitrary and ever-shifting racial rules that reigned during the Gilded Age. "The practice of passing generally...
Beyond the Book
Clarence King presented himself to Ada Copeland as Pullman porter James Todd with good reason; at the turn of the 20th twentieth century, only black men were hired as sleeping car porters. Introducing himself as a man of this profession would leave no doubt of his race, regardless of the color of his skin.
Developed by George Pullman in the mid-nineteenth century, the Pullman sleeping car was a luxurious addition to rapidly proliferating rail travel. Compartments outfitted with bunks allowed passengers to sleep during the night, making long trips far more...