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A Rush of Dreamers: Being the Remarkable Story of Norton I, Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico Hardcover – December 4, 1997
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Top Customer Reviews
While the characters are presented as larger than life, they are not cartoonish. The character of Joshua Norton is especially painted with depth, or at least as much as such an enigma can be. Sure, most people today would write him off as a penniless bum, madman, con artist, or worse. There was much, much more to him, though. Invariably, those that knew him spoke of his dignity, moral strength, and kindness. If he were simply mad, in a city like San Francisco (then or now) he would hardly have merited a second glance. Yet for over 20 years he was accepted as Emperor. Newspapers printed his edicts, restaurants fed him for free, citizens accepted his currency, heads of state corresponded with him (Lincoln, Victoria, and the Tsar) - and over 10,000 turned out in pouring rain to attend his funeral at the Masonic Cemetery. Norton the First was respected, he was listened to, and his moral example was followed- there are many called "Emperor" that could not claim this much.
In addition, this book presents a colorful and detail filled picture of gold rush times in early California. The author has done his research. I was especially taken by how he got the details of placer mining correct. My only minor criticism would be his knowledge of firearms of the period- there are a few obvious inaccuracies there.
If you are looking for a formal biography, then try _Norton I, Emperor of the United States_ by William Drury. The author also lists it as his primary reference.
This other story is of a young man's journey west, from Boston at the height of the rush to California.
He travels by boat, south past the Cape of Good Hope and through the Golden Gate. Then from a burgeoning San Francisco towards Sacramento and the Sierra Nevadas and Sutter's Fort, where anyone with a prayer and some tools seems to have come seeking the proverbial pot of gold and a life of luxury and joy.
Through this journey he meets other wild and interesting chracters, interspercing his relationship with Joshua Norton throughout. Eventually he, Norton and others we've met on the way venture for gold and find adventure, life lessons and violence.
All of this culminates as a backstory for who, what, why and how Joshua Norton, a South Africa of English and Jewish descent, became Emperor Norton I, Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico.
In truth that build up is interesting, engaging and vibrant. But perhaps a tact regarding this not as a historical and fictional biography, but as a historical fiction of San Francisco and environs as of the Gold Rush era would have been better. Because it is not just "the Remarkable Story of Joshua Norton Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico." It is other things and about other people.
But for San Fran lovers, natives or transpants, Gold Rush enthusiasts, eccentric character fans, or Westward Ho! affecianatos this is a good book.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This short novel is conversational and informative. It's a charming piece of historical fiction; well researched, insightful and fun. Read morePublished on May 5, 2012 by WonderDave
I have made several purchases of books from 3rd party book sellers through Amazon, and ALL of the previous purchases were "Just like New" and I was VERY pleased with them all... Read morePublished on June 25, 2010 by D. Mahdik