A Rush of Dreamers: Being the Remarkable Story of Norton I, Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico

John Cech, Author
John Cech, Author Marlowe & Company $20 (192p) ISBN 978-1-56924-775-4
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Believing his mother's claim that he is a changeling prince (and convinced by a seance-induced vision of his father), a South African Jew proclaims himself Emperor of America in this engaging, warm-hearted historical set during and after the 1849 San Francisco gold rush and told by a nameless friend of ""Sam Clemens."" Based on the true story of immigrant prospector Joshua Norton (who by the end of his life had become one of San Francisco's public curiosities), the tale follows Norton as he gains and loses two fortunes, then proclaims himself Norton I, Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico. The novelization of this historical figure's life makes a fine subject for English professor Cech, but it is not the only narrative thread; the New England-born '49er and newspaperman who tells this tale captures the comradeship, competition and disappointment of those struck with gold fever. Cech's slender homage to big dreamers is infused with the voice of the times. (Dec.)
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