Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher

The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis

Egan, Timothy

Book - 2012
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher
"Edward Curtis was dashing, charismatic, a passionate mountaineer, a famous photographer--the Annie Liebowitz of his time. And he was thirty-two years old in 1900 when he gave it all up to pursue his great idea: He would try to capture on film the Native American nation before it disappeared. At once an incredible adventure narrative and a penetrating biographical portrait, Egan's book tells the remarkable untold story behind Curtis's iconic photographs, following him throughout Indian country from desert to rainforest as he struggled to document the stories and rituals of more than eighty tribes. Even with the backing of Theodore Roosevelt and J.P. Morgan, it took tremendous perseverance--six years alone to convince the Hopi to allow him into their Snake Dance ceremony. The undertaking changed him profoundly, from detached observer to outraged advocate. He would die penniless and unknown in Hollywood just a few years after publishing the last of his twenty volumes. But the charming rogue with the grade-school education had fulfilled his promise--his great adventure succeeded in creating one of America's most stunning cultural achievements."--

Publisher: Boston : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012.
ISBN: 0618969020
Characteristics: 370 p. :,ill. ;,24 cm.


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Mar 21, 2015
  • cuwabig1 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Very interesting both from an historical and psychological point of view. Historically interesting because of the association with T.Roosevelt, J.P.Morgan, and the Native American tribes. Psychologically interesting to observe the spending of his life for his obsession. Well written as Timothy Egan's books usually are.

Oct 02, 2014

And after reading Egan's great book, you should go visit the John Wilson Special Collections and take a look at the actual photogravures by Edward Curtis. In our special collections Multnomah County Library has all 20 volumes of plates and all 20 volumes of text. An extraordinary publication.

Jan 08, 2014
  • pokano rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Superb book by Tim Egan describing the life and work of Edward Curtis, the Seattlite who took all the sepia-toned photos of Native Americans and First People in the late 1800's and well into the first half of the 20th Century. Amazingly enough, Curtis never made a dime off his monumental 20-volume work, which not only encompassed the photos, but also linguistic and other anthropological studies and precursors to movies. Funded primarily by mogul JP Morgan, Curtis was nonetheless constantly underfunded and died pretty much penniless. Read what made this man keep constantly on the road for decades, documenting numerous tribes in numerous states and Canada, when he was getting no financial compensation for his work. The book contains reproductions of several photos. A must read for anyone interested in the history of Native Americans, of the Pacific Northwest, and the development of mad genius.

Jul 16, 2013
  • tuesdayswithlori rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

The writing in this is very entertaining. I wish that there had been more pictures that Ed Curtis had taken. It is fascinating to read the story and see the picture of the person who captured Curtis's attention. I felt at times the the biographer too liberties with his interpretation of thoughts and feelings that Curtis had, but I could just be wrongfully suspicious. Fascinating life.

Jun 25, 2013
  • megtwice rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Unforgettable, hypnotizing, devastating, astonishing. One of the most fascinating books I've ever read — I will remember Edward Curtis and his undertaking forever. I immediately bought a book of his photographs when I finished, in order to not forget how moved I'd been and what I learned.

May 17, 2013
  • hypocracy rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

A fine story by a fine writer-story telling Timothy Egan about photographer Edward Sherriff Curtis’s photographic story telling about the native people the original owners of this lands and the loss of their nations. With population of over 10 million roaming all over this lands in 1492 reaching the end of their era when only 237000 was what left of them out of US population of 76 million of new comers according the Censes of 1900. This is the year when Curtis “The Shadow Catcher” started his struggle in pursue of his great idea to tell the story of what was left of the natives of this land for all the times ever coming in the future to be told with his photographs. Timothy Egan writing about Edward Curtis’s epic life story carries the reader finely through a problematic nebulous concoction of consternation he was facing in pursue of his great idea with a performance matching his promise. Edward Sherriff Curtis chose the companionship with the holy and they made him one. Your time with this book is worth as much as cup of life itself.

Nov 24, 2012

Now that I've finished reading this book, all my other reading seems boring. This book was really enjoyable. Readers who have lived in the American west, especially anyone who has lived in Seattle, would be glad they read it.

Nov 06, 2012
  • Nancy_Pearl rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

Tim Egan is a wonderful speaker - if you get a chance to hear him, drop everything and go.


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