At once an incredible adventure narrative and a penetrating biographical portrait, Egan's book tells the remarkable untold story behind Edward 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 80 tribes. Even with the backing of Theodore Roosevelt and J.P. Morgan, it took tremendous perseverance. 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 20 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.
PDF features Edward Curtis photographs.
©2012 Timothy Egan (P)2012 Dreamscape Media, LLC
"With a reporter's eye for detail, Egan delivers a gracefully written biography and adventure story." (Publishers Weekly)
"Lucent prose illuminates a man obscured for years in history's shadows." (Kirkus Reviews)
Riveting, no matter any preconceptions about Curtis, this author is a master.
Rebecca Solnit's remarkable River of Shadows, which is about Edweard Muybridge and the amazing geo-socio-psychological and historical reasons for his work.
He is really perfect. Has a world-weary voice, suitable to the material.
The Impossible Dream! A Quixotic Story of a man who gave up everything for a 20 volume photobook.
My review of the book on the ICP Library blog
I grew up in Seattle and didn't know anything about Curtis except having seen his photographs, it is always amazing what you find in your own backyard that they never even mentioned in school. What a dedicated person his was
I was unsure I would like this book but it's fascinating to know the full story of Curtiss' huge project. I just ordered a book with some of the pictures, and I want to track down the full set near me as well as his film
Moved to Utah , beautiful state.
I was so looking forward to this book but the narrator totally left me disappointed.
I can't even begin to describe the delivery. Almost no inflection. I'm sorry I bought the book.
I was so bored to tears I didn't even listen to the whole thing.
If I can get past the droaning monotony of the narrator I will try to listen to it again. Right now and has no saving grace
This is a great biography of an incredible photographer. I am quite familiar with his astounding portraits of the life of American Indians at the turn of last century. As I listened to the book I went online to look up the photographs that are referred to and that made the story even more intriguing. As Americans we are familiar with many of these images however knowing the story of Mr. Curtis and his devotion to telling the story of our indigenous peoples makes the photos come alive.
I found the narration lacking however. I'll admit I am spoiled by readers such as George Guidall and James Marsters who can impart such distinct character into each player in a story. David Drummond's style reminded me of a television news reporter more than the voice of someone telling the story of an important piece of American history.
As an aside; much of this story takes place in and around Seattle which is close to where I live so that made the story even more interesting for me and perhaps other Seattlites.
I couldn't listen to more than 15 minutes of the book because the narrator is awful. I find it difficult to believe that Timothy Egan, who writes with great passion on all his subjects selected, or approved the narrator who reads it sans emotion. My husband's reading of paper towels is more interesting. Unfortunately I could not just rate the section on performance, hence my meaningless rating on Overall and Story. The,only way I will be able to enjoy the book is to read it in print.
I have learned about Edward Curtis several times throughout my photographic and artistic education. I thought I had a clear grasp on him. This book changed several of my opinions about him. I had often read a lot of criticism about Curtis - mostly with regard to documentary ethics as well as his role in perpetuating stereotypes of native Americans. First of all this book exposes Curtis as a prolific, sensitive and genuine documentarian and advocate for all Native American cultures. He was progressive for his time and had the foresight to see Native American cultures would soon be lost.... many Americans (even some anthropologists) were caught up in racist hatred towards native Americans. While Curtis had many famous and wealthy friends and supporters, his thorough documentation of Native American cultures (which was with deepest sensitivity) often came at his own expense: mostly financial and stress it caused on his family. It was in many ways a thankless job that was not respected until long after he passed away.
Second, this book bravely approaches the very criticism I had read about. Which I really appreciated because it showed awareness of such criticism and it made arguments against it.
Oh I just want to keep listening to this book - it's for sure one of my favorite historical/biographical pieces I've listened to in a while.
A well balanced view of Edward Curtis- a photographer, an artist, a man with a vision to capture the culture of around 80 tribes of native Americans before the culture was lost.
He was not perfect but without his efforts and the many supporters - editor, field researchers, photo printers, financial support - we would not have his invaluable resource.
A wonderful story. I had never heard of Edward Curtis before listening to the book and was awed by his determination to create something so amazing no matter the personal cost. How sad that such a talented man never made enough to support himself financially. I would love to see some of The North American Indian volumes. The most interesting fact was the real story of Custer at the Little Big Horn.
Most of us have heard of Edward S. Curtis. Very few of us know the true, compelling story of this giant of an ethnologist and artist. His vision and all consuming desire was to record the true natives of this continent as their old ways of life were rapidly disappearing. His story is of a total and singular obsession and do so for a half of a century while making only enough money for room and board. His story is almost unbelievable in his dedication to a life's task. This book is well researched and highly recommended to anyone with a soul!
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