Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis (Paperback)

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History buffs, this one's for you; a must read! After finishing Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher, one can only sit back and try to imagine the life of this extraordinary man!  These are things our history books could never convey.  Born in 1868 in Whitewater, Wisconsin, Edward Curtis dropped out of school in the 6th grade and then went on to become one of the most famous recognized portrait photographers of his day.  And yet, nowhere that I can recall, had I ever learned of him; his life story seemingly having faded away...until now, thanks to Timothy Egan (author of The Worst Hard Time). Curtis's
swashbuckling image hardly matched the feats he left us in the annuals of the history of this nation.  High words, I know, but an amazing story when you see the comparative ease in which photographs are taken today.
Curtis built up a portrait photography business in Seattle, Washington, having migrated to the area with his father.  His life took a fortuitous turn when on a photographic expedition on Mt. Rainier, he helped
rescue a party of lost scientists who included George Bird Grinnell founder of the Audubon Society and C.H. Merriam, one of the original founders of the National Geographic Society.  With the beginnings from those connections, his portrait studio launched him into taking some of the most iconic pictures of the rich & famous including Theodore Roosevelt and J.P. Morgan.  But it was the picture of Chief Seattle's daughter, Princess Angeline and trips to Indian Reservations
with Grinnell that gave him his "Great Idea": "to capture on film the continent's original inhabitants before the old ways disappeared."  That feat would have been incredible on its own, but along with the photographs, he chronicled and audibly recorded Indian languages and ceremonies as well.  Just imagine hauling all that equipment, glass slides, audio recorders, food, camping materials...on horseback!  
But let's not forget the financial obligations to his staff, suppliers, Guides... and to himself.  It took him over 30 years to complete the task, never taking a penny for his work, begging for sponsors, ending up losing his marriage and every last personal and business possession.  The work he accomplished with the North American Indians (20 volumes) is his lasting legacy to a monumental work of art and history. Epic indeed! Thank you, Edward Curtis and thank you Timothy Egan for bringing this story alive!
— From Karen L


“A vivid exploration of one man's lifelong obsession with an idea . . . Egan’s spirited biography might just bring [Curtis] the recognition that eluded him in life.” — Washington Post

Edward Curtis was charismatic, handsome, a passionate mountaineer, and a famous portrait photographer, the Annie Leibovitz of his time. He moved in rarefied circles, a friend to presidents, vaudeville stars, leading thinkers. But when he was thirty-two years old, in 1900, he gave it all up to pursue his Great Idea: to capture on film the continent’s original inhabitants before the old ways disappeared.

Curtis spent the next three decades documenting the stories and rituals of more than eighty North American tribes. It took tremendous perseverance — ten years alone to persuade the Hopi to allow him to observe their Snake Dance ceremony. And the undertaking changed him profoundly, from detached observer to outraged advocate. Curtis would amass more than 40,000 photographs and 10,000 audio recordings, and he is credited with making the first narrative documentary film. In the process, the charming rogue with the grade school education created the most definitive archive of the American Indian.

“A darn good yarn. Egan is a muscular storyteller and his book is a rollicking page-turner with a colorfully drawn hero.” — San Francisco Chronicle

"A riveting biography of an American original." – Boston Globe

About the Author

TIMOTHY EGAN is a Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter, a New York Times columnist, winner of the Andrew Carnegie Medal for excellence in nonfictionHis previous books include The Worst Hard Time, which won a National Book Award, and the national bestseller The Big Burn. He lives in Seattle, Washington. 

Product Details
ISBN: 9780544102767
ISBN-10: 0544102762
Publisher: Mariner Books
Publication Date: August 6th, 2013
Pages: 384
Language: English
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