William Ralston is obsessed with a woman. His fiancée. Unfortunately, she’s dead. Based on the true story of the brilliant 19th C. banker who “built” San Francisco, Silver Kings & Sons of Bitches reveals the brokenhearted man who transformed the squalid gold rush town into one of the world’s most spectacular cities.
Louisa Thorn, the beautiful, vivacious granddaughter of Cornelius Vanderbilt, is Ralston’s one and only love, and her death just before their wedding is devastating. Needing to escape, the young financier moves to the wild and youthful San Francisco, and there channels his love for Louisa into his new home. In her memory, he will polish the rough-edged stone into a brilliant gem. But how? From whence the money? The Comstock Lode is discovered and he has his answer--he will funnel the vast wealth of the silver mines into his darling city, build museums, theaters, hotels. Louisa will be proud. And all goes according to plan until Adolph Sutro arrives at the Comstock with his own far-fetched silver dreams. And thus begins a decade-long battle, a battle the rich and powerful Ralston should easily win, except that Sutro turns out to be very resourceful and incredibly stubborn.
Eli’s Creek, nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, has been pretty much the same since the gold rush days. The townsfolk, all descendants of Scandinavian gold miners, enjoy their quiet streets and picket fences and morning coffee at the pastry shop. Then Iraqi immigrant Omar Bishara moves into town with his wife and two children. Mr. Bishara had helped the Americans in the Iraq War and was forced to flee the country afterwards. They have come to Eli’s Creek by way of Los Angeles, seeking a quieter life away from the big city and its influences. Their son, Baligh, is eighteen and will study engineering in the fall, as his father wishes, but his heart is set on studying philosophy. The Bisharas make an offer to purchase the Storhund House and reaction is swift: the old house is a landmark of sorts and locals are opposed to such a sale. Meanwhile, Lilly Knutzen has come home for the summer after her freshman year at Berkeley; she is the town's favorite daughter and her return is much anticipated. On her first day back, Lilly and Baligh see each other and the attraction is instantaneous. As protest grows over the sale of Storhund, Lilly and Baligh are falling in love and the townspeople don’t know which they oppose more, the sale or the unthinkable romance. Small town politics unravels, friendships and families are strained, and tensions build to a dramatic and unexpected climax that will forever change the town and its citizens.