Event Recap: Book Club Meeting: Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis by Timothy Egan

Join the PWP Book Club in January for a discussion of an award-winning book

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

by Timothy Egan


Book Description (from the author’s website):


Edward Curtis was charismatic, handsome, a passionate mountaineer, and a famous photographer. He was a friend to presidents, vaudeville stars, and leading thinkers. And he was thirty-two years old in 1900 when 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 tribes. It took tremendous perseverance, and the undertaking changed him profoundly, from detached observer to outraged advocate. Eventually Curtis took more than 40,000 photographs, preserved 10,000 audio recordings, and 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.

In the end he fulfilled his promise: He made the Indians live forever.


Reviews (from Amazon’s website and the author’s website):


"Insightful and entertaining . . . Egan's excellent book stands as a fitting tribute to an American original who fought for a people with his camera and his art."

– Los Angeles Times


"A stirring and affectionate portrait of an underknown figure."

– The New York Times Book Review


“Egan is a muscular storyteller and his book is a rollicking page-turner with a colorfully drawn hero.”

– San Francisco Chronicle


About the Author (from the Author’s Website):


Timothy Egan is the author of nine books. His ninth, A PILGRIMAGE TO ETERNITY, has just been published. His book called THE IMMORTAL IRISHMAN was a New York Times bestseller. His book on Edward Curtis, SHORT NIGHTS OF THE SHADOW CATCHER, was awarded the Carnegie Award for best nonfiction. His account of the Dust Bowl, THE WORST HARD TIME, won the 2006 National Book Award, considered one of the nation’s highest literary honors, and he was featured prominently in the 2012 Ken Burns film on the Dust Bowl.


A lifelong journalist, Mr. Egan now writes an online opinion column for The New York Times.  Prior to that, Mr. Egan worked as a national correspondent for the Times, roaming the West.  As a Times correspondent, he shared a Pulitzer Prize in 2001 with a team of reporters for its series, “How Race is Lived in America.”


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