ONE THEME of this extraordinary exploration of a hidden gay story concerns the lessons parents teach their children—two sons, in this case, coming from vastly different circumstances.
Will Clark, the son of William Andrews Clark, the vastly wealthy mining tycoon known as “The Copper King of Montana,” learned from his father how to manage scandals. For the elder Clark, the scandals included sending a girl in her teens from Montana to Paris, where she would become his mistress and later his second wife, and bribing his way into the U.S. Senate in 1901.
Albert Harrison, the son of Mark and Jennie Harrison—a young Jewish couple disowned by her well-to-do parents—learned from his parents that he could become someone else. Jennie left her alcoholic husband and changed her name to Genevieve. Every time Mark lost a job, he and his son started over in another city. After his father’s death, an impoverished Albert, undoubtedly prompted by his homosexuality, attempted suicide in a hotel room. Failing to end his life, he decided to reinvent himself, changing his name to Harrison Post.
Daniel Burr is a frequent contributor to this magazine.