Arts & Entertainment: Author tell of one man’s quest to photograph the Native American Nation

Author tells of one man’s quest to photograph the Native American nation Timothy Egan, author of “Short Nights of the Shadow Dancer: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis,” will give a free book talk and signing Nov. 8 at 7 p.m., in the Olympic Room at Tacoma Public Library. Prizewinning writer Timothy Egan tells the riveting, cinematic story behind the most famous photographs in Native American history – and the one lone, brilliant man whose epic obsession led to one of America’s greatest cultural treasures.

‘Short Nights of the Shadow Dancer: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis’

Edward Curtis was dashing, charismatic, a passionate mountaineer, a famous photographer – the Annie Leibovitz of his time. And he was 32 years old in 1900 when he gave it all up to pursue his great idea: to try to capture on film the Native American nation before it disappeared. At once an incredible adventure narrative and a penetrating biographical portrait, Egan's book tells the remarkable untold story behind 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 – six years alone to convince the Hopi to allow him into their Snake Dance ceremony.

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. “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. 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 Editors' Choice. He is an online op-ed columnist for the New York Times, writing his "Opinionator" feature once a week.

Books will be available for purchase and signing at the event. For information visit http://www.tacomapubliclibrary.org or call (243) 292-2001.

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