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Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis [Livre audio] [Anglais] [MP3 CD]

Timothy Egan , David Drummond

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Description de l'ouvrage

9 octobre 2012

“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

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 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
--Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Broché .

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Revue de presse

"In this hauntingly beautiful book, Egan brings Curtis to life as vividly and with as much depth, heart and understanding as Curtis himself put into his timeless portraits. This is a story for the ages.” — Candice Millard, author of The River of Doubt and Destiny of the Republic
 
"Edward Curtis’s hauntingly beautiful photographs have graced gallery walls and coffee tables for generations—and his work remains essential to our conception of the American West. Now, in this extraordinary biography, Tim Egan has deftly captured the man behind the images, revealing a great American adventurer who lived at the fragile, fertile intersection of history, anthropology, and art.” — Hampton Sides, author of Blood and Thunder
 
"Short Nights is not only the marvelous and rollicking account of life of one of America's extraordinary photographers. It is also a book about the extreme personal cost of outsize ambition. Edward Curtis undertook one of the most epic cultural projects in American history — photographing and documenting the vanishing ways of life of some eighty American Indian tribes. It cost him almost everything he once was. And still he persisted, turning out some of the greatest photographic and ethnological work ever done. Egan has found yet another great subject and has crafted yet another great narrative around it.” — S. C. Gwynne, author of Empire of the Summer Moon
 
"[Short Nights] mesmerizes--it's instructive, entertaining and a joy to read . . . When it comes to superlative historical writing, this is as good as it gets . . . Dazzling." -- Shelf Awareness
 
"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
 
"An astonishing story, worth knowing and well told." –- Cleveland Plain Dealer
 
"A remarkable story." -- Oregonian

"Egan fills his chronicle with bright turns of phrase and radiant descriptions, making both places and people come alive . . . A sweeping tale about two vanishing ways of life." -- Wall St. Journal
"Egan writes this fascinating biography with a compelling and occasionally creative narrative that challenges the age-old ratio of a picture's worth to a thousand words. Egan somehow makes both more valuable."-- USA  Today

"[Egan] artfully frames a stunning portrait of Edward Curtis that captures every patina of his glory, brilliance, and pathos.  [Egan] writes with passion and grace." -- Christian Science Monitor
"The author gracefully transforms the past into vivid scenes that employ all five senses." -- Star Tribune
"Egan brings liveliness and a wealth of detail to his biography of the legendary American photographer Edward Sheriff Curtis . . . a riveting biography of an American original." - Boston Globe

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

"[A] captivating tribute to a treasured American and the treasures he created."-- Dallas Morning News
"Egan's keen sense of place, people and history makes 'Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher' an exceptional marriage of author and subject." -- Bloomberg

"Egan's superb biography is actually a double portrait--of Curtis and also the Native American struggle to resist assimilation." -- Newsweek
--Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Broché .

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Couverture | Copyright | Table des matières | Extrait | Index | Quatrième de couverture
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Amazon.com: 4.6 étoiles sur 5  306 commentaires
217 internautes sur 223 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Captivating biography of an American original 5 septembre 2012
Par Pam Gearhart - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit (De quoi s'agit-il?)
I had heard of Edward Curtis but knew only that he was a photographer, and that he took many pictures of American Indians in the early 1900's. That should make me ashamed, since I lived in Seattle, Curtis's home town, for many years.

Timothy Egan's book gives a detailed, balanced look at Curtis's life and his life's work: Publication of a 20-volume look at American Indian communities in the early 20th century. Just thinking about such a venture makes me tired, but Curtis was tireless (hence the "short nights" in the title -- he rarely slept). The series would include not just photographs but a lexicon preserving languages, and in the making of this Curtis would make film and audio records of songs and ceremonies that would have been lost forever.

His ambition seems quite unrealistic, almost delusional, to someone from present day. Traveling thousands of miles with bulky photographic equipment, in unmapped territory without the benefit of conveniences we take for granted -- GPS, airplanes, cell phones, overnight delivery, fax machines. He and his team made a photographic and textual record that has never been equalled, and probably never will be. And during this time he made a movie and developed a stage presentation that wowed even the most sophisticated audiences.

Even if you're not particularly interested in photography or American Indians, Egan's book is fascinating as a look at the early 1900's, movers and shakers, people like J. P. Morgan and Theodore Roosevelt. Egan's writing is brisk, his descriptions evocative. It never bogged down, even when things weren't going well for Curtis.

The book is full of flavor and color, success and hardship, but more important, Egan, through showing us Curtis's life and his work, has brought home the devastation and loss of American's First People. Destruction and loss of their cultures has hurt every American, not just Indians. That's what I took from this book.

The epilogue was heartening, and it's also heartening that Curtis knew the value of his work, even if it wasn't fully realized until after he was dead.
119 internautes sur 128 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 My first biography is among my most memorable books 26 septembre 2012
Par Tactitles - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit (De quoi s'agit-il?)
Edward Curtis was a man consumed by an almost inhuman drive, aided it seemed by an energy supplied from the universe itself, to record and create. Like many substantial historical figures, it seemed that circumstances and coincidences were resolved by and around his presence, to whatever outcomes most favored his mission. In other words, to place a word on it, "destiny" seemed to have a corner carved out just for Curtis. His vision was to be fulfilled, even at the cost of all else in his life. Something bigger had fallen upon him, and claimed him for its own.

This was my overwhelming impression after reading my very first biography. Throughout the book I knew I would struggle to remain concise as I tried to put words to my praise for this work. I am a reader of fiction, the authors of which have the advantage of being able to create emotions from imagined events. The author here creates the same powerful effects with facts. Adventure, surprise, wonder, inspiration, heartbreak and incredible sadness are all found here. This is real history, and not a history lesson. Readers will learn many things without being aware of it.

Here is my attempt at conciseness. Why does this book work so well?
1. The subject matter is interesting by itself. The time period is filled with adventure, achievement, and people larger than life.
2. Edward Curtis is a likeable figure, as evidenced by all those he influenced. His dream was contagious, and many others leaped at the chance to witness it.
3. The American Dream, if it ever existed in definable terms, can be found here. Curtis was not highly educated, grew up poor, and achieved his goals using only his natural talents, his charisma, and extraordinary hard work. Others helped, but it was Curtis who championed the cause, and persuaded others to do so. He was a leader.
4. Curtis was not perfect, and the author is honest. But he was an extraordinary man, which the author's writing conveys time and time again.
5. The author himself. His writing is moving and seems sincere at all times, and the story unfolds like a great adventure/drama, and not a biography.

I had never heard of Edward Curtis. It has been my loss not to have known his story sooner. This is fascinating stuff. The Indians that Curtis was obsessed with recording, were the stuff of legends and myths. It is fitting that Curtis's own legend should rival any of his studied subjects. He was larger than life, with a will and determination familiar to the Indians. He became part of them, and they of him, the minute he first photographed an old Seattle Indian woman. His subsequent journey was filled with the heaviest burden. The remaining Indians of North America were on one shoulder, and an exploding white population was on the other. Curtis stood tall, and after reading this you can almost believe he never felt a thing. His legs, powered by his dream, were of iron. He would be glad to meet you, no matter your race, but rest assured he was moving on. Time was short.

Thanks are due to the author, for pulling me away from my comfort zone for reading, and into another world of books that I eagerly look forward to exploring.
73 internautes sur 82 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 The Magnificent Obsession... 26 août 2012
Par John P. Jones III - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit (De quoi s'agit-il?)
Timothy Egan has done it again. He is a columnist for the New York Times, often writing articles on the American West. Thanks to the Vine program, I've read a couple of others of his works: The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America and The Worst Hard Time. Both were well-written and well-researched accounts of some aspect of American history that had largely eluded me. The latter book even "changed my life," well, at least led me to be a "tourist" in Dalhart, Texas, for a day, which was an epicenter for the Dust Bowl catastrophe. Fortunately, the skies were clear that day. So, when this book popped up in my Vine offerings, I had to say YES, please, and once again was not disappointed, and now I am even a bit more informed.

Alas, I had never heard of Edward Curtis, (`Tis embarrassing to say), a/k/a, "The Shadow Catcher," an apt name for a photographer. Sure, there were Joseph Stieglitz, and Ansel Adams, brilliant photographers, both, but in terms of life achievement, Curtis at least equaled, and perhaps even surpassed them. I had seen his photographs before, for example, the seven horsemen in the Canyon de Chelly, but it took Egan to make me realize the whole. With the death of his father, at a youthful age, he became the principal support of his family. They moved to Seattle in the late 1800's. He became successful in the new medium of photography, operating the studio that catered to the "rich and famous," in a new boom town. And that could have been that. But no, Curtis developed an obsession, the magnificent obsession even, of capturing representative samples of all the Indian tribes of North American, both in photographs, as well as recordings of their languages, before they were completely overwhelmed by the forces of "modernity," often as exemplified by going, "war bonnet" in hand, to meet "the man," the government agent.

It wasn't easy. Curtis was poor all of his life, hounded by creditors, and though he often had a "good press," and friends in high places, including President Theodore Roosevelt and JP Morgan, he was usually begging for money. His "mistress," the Indians, cost him his wife, though three of his children sided with him. But for sheer achievement, though he was an unappreciated prophet in the wilderness, decades before his time, he delivered in spades, many times over. He saw what was immediately before him, taking a haunting picture of a "beggar woman," Princess Angeline, last surviving child of Chief Seattle, a year before she died. (We have a similar woman who wanders our neighborhoods...should not this book be the catalyst to ask why, and even take her picture?). He got a lucky break, hiking another obsession of his, Mt. Rainer, and meeting, and helping a hiking party which included Bird Grinnell, founder of the Audubon Society, and Clint Merriam, co-founder of National Geographic. With suitable introductions in place, he was invited as the photographer for an expedition funded by the railroad magnet, E. H. Harriman, to Alaska.

In 1900 he was with the Blackfeet, on their reservation near Glacier National Park. He witnessed, and photographed their encampment, ready for the Sun Dance. Perhaps the most tragic of all Indian tribes is the Nez Perce, who had constantly befriended the white man, and truly saving Lewis and Clark, only to be repaid with constantly broken promises. Curtis took an achingly beautiful picture, which captures their tragedy, in Chief Joseph, a year before he died. Curtis also spent much time in the Southwest, with the Hopi, and was even included in their Snake Dance. He was at the oldest continuously inhabited city in North America, Acoma, and again "scored," photographically, with women drawing water from a pool. He got an Apache medicine man to open up about their religion, one that the "experts" back east claimed they did not have. He took an excellent picture of Geronimo before his death. Curtis bore witness to the demise of the Indians along the Columbia River. He spent time with the fragmented tribes in Oklahoma and California. He did a movie entitled "In the Land of the Head-Hunters," about the coastal Indians of British Columbia. Some of his very best work, among happy people, was with the Eskimo, near Nome, Alaska, just before the Great Depression rolled in. With persistence, basic respect, a knack for picking good interpreters, and yes, some money, he was able to have virtually all the tribes open up to him, and reveal much of their inner life. He was auto-didactic, as so many of us are. His formal education stopped in 6th-grade, and thus his accomplishments were often ignored by the PhD "experts."

Overall, it took him almost three decades. He produced a high quality, 20 volume edition, which sold around 300 copies. Truly, the Sorrow and the Pity. The Morgan library obtained all the rights, but lost interest, and sold them all, including the plates, for a thousand bucks. And now fragments of his work are sold for millions in auction.

Personally, his obsession resonated with me. Over a similar period of approximately three decades I watched the demise of the Bedouin of Saudi Arabia, whose old ways are gone forever. Fragments, and it is only that, the flakes of their lives, have been captures by various amateurs, but none with the singular obsession of Edward Curtis.

Timothy Egan's prose style is lucid and informative, and he manages to capture the ironic twists of life. Another excellent, worthwhile history. Many thanks. 5-stars, plus.

[ Note: As with all Vine offerings, there is the usual caveat that this copy is a "proof" copy, and corrections may be made prior to actual publication. I hope so! Otherwise, there may be a "recall." Pages 15 and 223 were duplicated twice, and since the text did not appear correct, it would appear that two pages are missing]
10 internautes sur 10 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Publisher Dropped The Ball On This One 14 février 2013
Par James M. Tabor - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
Timothy Egan's writing is typically strong, his research typically thorough,his insights typically informing. But this is a book about PHOTOGRAPHY and the publisher, God knows why, printed the photos on the same rough paper stock that was used for the text pages. As a result, the photos are fuzzy, lack definition, lose the subtle shadings that make great photos true art, and are hugely disappointing. It's purely and simply a cost-cutting measure, but in this case ruins the book's true essence. And God knows again, they must have made enough money off of TE to afford decent print stock.
16 internautes sur 18 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Epic 7 octobre 2012
Par Mark Stevens - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit (De quoi s'agit-il?)
The largest anthropological enterprise ever undertaken?

That's Mick Gidley, a professor of American literature, as quoted by Timothy Egan near the end of this exhaustive, gripping look at the life of photographer Edward Curtis.

M. Scott Momaday, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his novel House Made of Dawn, lauded Curtis for capturing the Indians of North America "so close to the origins of their humanity, their sense of themselves in the world..."

Egan's "Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher, The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis," makes a clear case that the accolades are justified.

You will recognize many if the iconic pictures Curtis captured. Woman and Child, 1927. Geronimo--Apache, 1905. Many more. And perhaps, like me, you never stopped to think too long about the work required to produce them. "Short Nights" fills the gap.

Egan traces Curtis from his first picture in Seattle (1896), when he was no crusader for Indian rights. "Curtis wanted pictures. Indians their treat rights, political autonomy and property disputes--all of that was somebody else's fight. Politics. Injustice. Blah, blah, blah. Who cares? The exchange between photographer and subject was purely a business proposition..."

That view doesn't last long. Curtis' empathy grows as he finds his way inside a variety of Indian cultures. In the end, Curtis took 40,000 photographs, recorded 10,000 songs, captured vocabulary and pronunciation guides for 75 languages and a documented an "incalculable number of myths, rituals and religious stories from deep oral histories."

Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher is a terrific biography of Curtis that weaves in and out of the fabric of U.S. history and will make you wonder what kind of country we would have created had early settlers and Native Americans found a way to co-exist, or if just a slice of Curtis' open-mindedness governed the interactions from the outset.

Curtis' determination to document the Native American cultures before they slipped into the void of history is, quite simply, off the charts. "I want to make them live forever," he said. "It's such a big dream I can't see it all, so many tribes to visit."

Egan tracks Curtis back and forth across the country, to the American Southwest and the Pacific Northwest and the High Plains and Oklahoma and everywhere Native Americans called home, even if their "homes" had been it drastically altered in their losing negotiations with the European settlers.

"After a year's absence, Curtis noticed that natives of the Southwest had changed Government agents who had banned even more ceremonies. As in Montana, children were hauled off to boarding schools run by the missions, where their spiritual lives were handed over to another God. The boys were supposed to learn how to farm and read, the girls how to be homemakers and serve tea. Those who resisted were threatened with a loss of provisions and derided as `blanket Indians.'"

Curtis comes across as fanatical, restless, eager and endlessly unsatisfied with his work.

"After several weeks, he was allowed to follow Apache women as they harvested mescal, roasted it in a pit and mixed it for a drink. Still, he was only scratching the surface--an embedded tourist. He wanted detail, detail and more detail. He heard whispered talk about a painted animal skin, a chart of some kind that was the key to understanding Apache spiritual practices. Curtis offered a medicine man $100--a fortune, more than any person on the reservation could earn in a year--if he would show him the skin and explain what the symbols meant. His bribe was rejected."

Curtis' fame grows. He struggles to get close--and disappear within--various tribes. He descends a Hopi ladder into a Kiva "thick with rattlesnakes." He seeks financing through the powerful J.P. Morgan and struggles for decades to meet the schedule and obligations that Morgan funded. Curtis analyzes the site of Custer's Last Stand and, together with his interviews with Native Americans, draws a controversial conclusion that Custer "had unnecessarily sacrificed the lives of his soldiers to further his personal end," drawing scorn from President Roosevelt and others.

In one of the most moving chapters, Egan details Curtis' relationship with Alexander Upshaw, a Crow from Montana who had been raised in a boarding school in Pennsylvania and who became Curtis' most valuable interpreter--a "fixer" in today's media lingo--who smoothed the way for Curtis as he approached new societies.

Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher has heft, detail and history but also rides lightly on Egan's magical narrative touch. The reading is a breeze, the details powerful. It's easy to spot the places where it might have been easy for Curtis to chart a different and perhaps more satisfying course but Egan makes it clear that Curtis' agenda and zeal were at a level of intensity that overshadowed normal self-analysis.

Egan: "His theme, consistent from the beginning, was that Indians were spiritual, adaptive people with complex societies. They had been massively misunderstood from the start of their encounters with European settlers, and they were passing away before the eyes of a generation, mostly through no fault of their own. For them, the present was all of decline, the future practically nonexistent, the past glorious."

Susan Sontag once said that photographs "alter and enlarge our notions of what is worth looking at and what we have a right to observe."

Curtis spent his life opening the eyes of those who preferred to look away or ignore what was happening to the Indians. Egan, in turn, finds mountains of humanity in the life of Edward Curtis and opens our eyes to a man who worked to "enlarge our notions" through photography and ethnography and change the way we treated our fellow human beings. Or, at least, tried.
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