Synopses & Reviews
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 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
“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
How a lone man's epic obsession led to one of America's greatest cultural treasures: Prize-winning writer Timothy Egan tells the riveting, cinematic story behind the most famous photographs in Native American history — and the driven, brilliant man who made them.
About the Author
Timothy Egan is a Pulitzer Prize winning reporter and the author of six books, most recently The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire That Saved America, a New York Times bestseller and winner of the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Award and the Washington State Book Award. His previous books include The Worst Hard Time, which won a National Book Award and was named a New York Times Editor's Choice. He is an online op-ed columnist for the New York Times, writing his "Opinionator" feature once a week. He is a third-generation Westerner and lives in Seattle.