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

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9780544102767: Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis
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“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

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In the summer of 1900, Edward Curtis gave up a successful photography career to pursue a quixotic plan: to photograph all the Indian communities in North America. He quickly learned that his subjects were dying off fast, so he’d need to hurry if he was “to capture the essence of their lives before that essence disappeared.” A mountaineer, explorer, intrepid photojournalist, and amateur anthropologist, Curtis was Ansel Adams crossed with Annie Leibovitz, a willful and passionate chronicler of a people he came to love. “I want to make them live forever,” Curtis said in the early days of his decades-long mission. As Egan’s thrilling story attests, he succeeded, even though he died penniless and alone. --Neal Thompson

Photos from the Author (Amazon.com Exclusive)

Bear's Belly (Edward S. Curtis, courtesy of Cardozo Fine Art)

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Before the Storm (Edward S. Curtis, courtesy of Cardozo Fine Art)

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Canyon De Chelley (Edward S. Curtis, courtesy of Cardozo Fine Art)

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  Oasis in the Bad Lands (Edward S. Curtis, courtesy of Cardozo Fine Art)

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Piegan Encampment (Edward S. Curtis, courtesy of Cardozo Fine Art)

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Watching Dancers (Edward S. Curtis, courtesy of Cardozo Fine Art)

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HMH hardcover 2012 Previous ISBN 978-0-618-96902-9

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9780618969029: Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis

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