|Biography, Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Forthcoming Media, History, Mexico, Monographs, Passing, Slavery, United States on 2016-04-15 01:38Z by Steven|
W. W. Norton & Company
6.1 × 9.3 in
Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-393-23925-6
Karl Jacoby, Professor of History
Columbia University, New York, New York
A prize-winning historian tells a new story of the black experience in America through the life of a mysterious entrepreneur.
A black child born in the twilight of slavery, William Henry Ellis inhabited a world of fraught, ambiguous racial categories on the anarchic border between the United States and Mexico. He adopted the name Guillermo Enrique Eliseo and passed as a Mexican: traveling as Hispanic in first-class train berths, staying in the finest hotels, and eating in leading restaurants. A shrewd businessman, he became fabulously wealthy and found himself involved in scandalous trials, unexpected disappearances, and diplomatic controversies. Constantly switching identities, Eliseo was a genius at identifying and exploiting the porousness of the color line and the border line.
Through Ellis’s picaresque biography, Karl Jacoby presents an intriguing narrative set in a secret and ever-changing world. The Strange Career of William Ellis reinterprets the borderlands, showing how U.S. and Mexican histories intertwined during Reconstruction, and he offers new insight into the arbitrary and evolving definitions of race in America.