Biography at its Best

Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher – The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis by Timothy Egan.

What a great piece of non-fiction writing! Curtis took his iconic “art photos” of Native Americans as their lives were changing from about 1890 to 1930. His opus magnum was a 20 volume set of books containing photos, language documentation, songs, stories and observations. He valued the life the tribes led before contact with Europeans. 

One premise he sought to prove was the the native people did, in fact, “practice religion”. 

I took this book with me to the car dealership when my car was subject to a safety recall. In the waiting area, a woman asked what I was reading. It turned out she was from South Carolina and carried Blackfeet tribal blood! She was thrilled by the Curtis photos and I told her to get the book from the County Library the following week, when I expected to return it. I hope she found it.

This book belongs in every public library and should be read by everyone who values cultural diversity. We are so fortunate that Curtis pursued his passion for the lives of native people, and that Egan produced this fine summary.

I read this book in October of 2012.

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