Timothy Egan won the 2006 National Book Award for The Worst Hard Time, his chronicle of the 1930s Dust Bowl catastrophe as experienced by ordinary people. His new book, Short Nights of The Shadow Catcher (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28), is an equally vivid and engaging account of the life of Edward Curtis (1868-1952), the brilliant photographer of Native Americans. Hailing from Seattle, Curtis began tinkering with cameras as a boy and was largely self-taught as a photographer. He was also an amateur anthropologist and archeologist, gradually combining his interests to document Native American culture. At a time when popular media scorned American Indians, Curtis, dubbed the “Shadow Catcher” by the Hopis, dedicated himself to presenting these peoples with sympathy and dignity—as is apparent in the examples of his work included in this book. Unfortunately, Curtis was also an amateur businessman and died penniless.
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Published: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) - October 9th, 2012
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Published: Mariner Books - August 6th, 2013
Dust Bowl: An Illustrated History (Chronicle, $40) is the companion volume to the series, also by Dayton Duncan and Ken Burns, being aired on CBS this fall. The book captures terrifying photographs of mile-high dust clouds, devastated land and livestock, and worried farmers and children. With its many first-hand accounts and oral histories, the book conveys this difficult time in America in vivid detail. Growing up, I heard many stories of the Dust Bowl from my grandmother who lived in the Texas panhandle during that time. This book helps to round out my education on the topic with additional narratives and breathtaking pictures.