(From the publisher):
In San Francisco, a city famous for its eccentrics, the most celebrated of all was Joshua Norton who, in 1859, declared himself Emperor of the United States. One of the original '49ers, Norton made and lost a fortune (and a good portion of his reason) during those rough and ready first years of the "instant" city that grew out of the sand dunes of Yerba Buena. Until his death in 1880, the Emperor presided over the public life of San Francisco. Dressed in his fabled uniform with its plumed hat, Norton made his daily rounds of the city; he attended its civic functions, inspected its progress, issued proclamations, including one that called for the construction of a bridge between Oakland and San Franscico.
John Cech's novel recreates those dizzying days of the Gold Rush and its aftermath, when dreams of sudden riches could quickly become nightmares, and survival depended on the kindness of strangers and the persistence of the imagination. It does, finally, what Mark Twain urged someone to do for his friend the Emperor over a century ago—"write him up." Along the way, Cech tells the story not only of Emperor Norton but also of that Whitman-like catalogue of dreamers—merchants and mechanics, bandits and blacksmiths, clerks and clairvoyants, artists and inventors—who found themselves rushing for the promise of California.
Original title: A Rush of Dreamers: Being the Remarkable Story of Norton I, Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico
Genre: Fiction→ Historical→ North America→ Pioneering & Westward Movement
Fiction→ Western→ Mines and Mining