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Publisher's Summary

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

Critic Reviews

"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)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.4 out of 5.0
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Performance

  • 4.3 out of 5.0
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    54
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    27
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Story

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  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

STUPENDOUS!

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Riveting, no matter any preconceptions about Curtis, this author is a master.

What other book might you compare Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher to and why?

Rebecca Solnit's remarkable River of Shadows, which is about Edweard Muybridge and the amazing geo-socio-psychological and historical reasons for his work.

What about David Drummond’s performance did you like?

He is really perfect. Has a world-weary voice, suitable to the material.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

The Impossible Dream! A Quixotic Story of a man who gave up everything for a 20 volume photobook.

Any additional comments?

My review of the book on the ICP Library blog

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Now I want to see the 20 volumes he published

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

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Good historical biography

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

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Great story but less than great narrator

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Incredible tale of adventure

I never knew who Edward Curtis was but knew his photography at first glance. This is the story of his life and adventures, rising to fame and losing everything in showing the life of the Native Americans. Starts out slow but becomes absolutely captivating half way through. Highly recommend.

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Wagon took us on a powerful journey

A compelling story of a man who made it his life's calling to document the lives, religion and customs in magnificent photography and prose. It also highlighted the terrible tragedy of the U.S. government's efforts to remove the native Indians from their homes and to rob them of their customs, livelihood and many of their lives; a shameful legacy. Very well written!

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well worth it

A slow start but once into it, I wanted to keep listening! what a powerful and undertold story.

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Must listen for all who appreciate Edward Curtis

Any additional comments?

For anyone who has marveled at Curtis's photographs this is an essential listen. I was amazed at how monumental the effort in creating the 20 volumes of the North American Indian actually was. I new he had finacial backing but had no idea how much - 20 million in today's dollars. I also did not know how many others had been involved and lastly how much he sacrificed in creating this. His achievements will be eternal.
Even though he did not gain financially from his work he did get to live a life of a purposeful wanderer traveling throughout the United States with someone else paying for it.
Highly recommend

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A must listen !

Anyone who ever had a dream needs to read this book. I was left in awe that Curtis could accomplish the daunting task of preserving the customs, languages & sacred rituals of All of The Native American Indian tribes, in just one lifetime, and never took a cent for it. His passion is contagious...I was taken away... Did not want the journey to end. As the book said, the times finally caught up with him! Amazing!

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Who Selected the Gawd-Awful Narrator?

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.