Timothy Egan's robust biography of Edward Curtis is not only the record of a prophetic artist's life and work, it is a transfixing story of audacious achievement and massive commercial failure during a period of stunning cultural blindness and injustice. Curtis began his career as a society photographer, but is arguably best remembered for his work capturing the lives of Native Americans on film. Egan's portrait of Curtis, who produced an historic twenty-volume photographic and cultural record of America's native peoples, is a masterful and ironic double-exposure: Curtis's life comes into sharpest focus against the backdrop of indigenous America's fading world. As Native Americans and their cultures vanished, Curtis doggedly realized his project which itself was forgotten and almost permanently lost.
Curtis was an adventurer, a tough and intrepid outdoorsman, and, at the peak of ...
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