An Emperor Among Us by David St. John
The Eccentric Life and Benevolent Reign of Norton I, Emperor of the United States, as Told by Mark Twain

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As cigar smoke hangs heavy in Mark Twain’s sitting room, the members of the Monday Evening Club eagerly await his presentation, which they think will be the reading of his paper The Decay of the Art of Lying. Instead, Twain changes his mind and enthralls his audience with the true tale of one man’s unconventional and fascinating journey through life.

It is 1849 when a thirty-one-year-old Jewish South African immigrant sails into San Francisco Bay with forty thousand dollars in his pocket, coming to join the Gold Rush but eventually finding his fortune in real estate and commerce. Just a few short years after Joshua Norton finally realizes success, however, he fails beyond his darkest nightmares. Now delusional and nearly penniless, he proclaims himself the Emperor of the United States as he aimlessly wanders the streets of San Francisco. As Emperor Norton unintentionally becomes a vital part of the young city, the people afford him the respect of a true monarch as he issues proclamations that, under his fictional rule, bring a much-needed renaissance of civility to society.

An Emperor Among Us tells the intriguing tale of a remarkable eccentric who wove a unique, gentle, and civilized thread into the rough and tumble fabric of early San Francisco.

About David St. John

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David St. John has been honored with many of the most significant prizes for poets, including fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, both the Rome Fellowship in Literature and an Award in Literature from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, the O. B. Hardison Jr. Prize from The Folger Shakespeare Library, and a grant from the Ingram Merrill Foundation. He teaches at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.
Published November 26, 2012 by iUniverse. 157 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for An Emperor Among Us

City Book Review

The Emperor was no mere kook, he was a champion of public safety and San Francisco pride, and St. John is as true to the Emperor’s spirit as he is to his failings.

Mar 01 2013 | Read Full Review of An Emperor Among Us: The Ecce...

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