"Clarence King is a hero of nineteenth century western history; a brilliant scientist and witty conversationalist, best-selling author and architect of the great surveys that mapped the West after the Civil War. Secretary of State John Hay named 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 steel worker named James Todd. Passing Strange tells the dramatic tale of a family built along the fault lines of celebrity, class, and race–from the ""Todd's"" wedding in 1888, to the 1964 death of Ada King, one of the last surviving Americans born into slavery. "
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